A Social Justice Case for Campaign Finance Reform
• Nov 05, 2015
Huffington Post By: Talmon J. Smith
In the Jim Crow South, before blacks had their turn to vote, states often held a white primary -- so that even in districts where blacks were the majority, black political priorities were nullified and black voters were subjected to picking from a crop of 'general election' candidates preselected by the white population.
Today, the democratic process is no longer skewed by white primaries. Instead, before general elections, before even primary voting begins, there is a fundraising primary that takes place among the donor class and wielders of corporate PACs, in which they determine those who will be given the lionshare of campaign funds.
When the average price of winning or holding on to a six-year term in the U.S. Senate averages $10,476,451, as in the 2012 election cycle, these 'first-round' pick candidates, backed by the donor class, prove immensely hard to beat. In 2014 Congress had an 11 percent approval rating but a 96 percent incumbent reelection rate.
Currently, the number one determinant of whether a person is a viable candidate for office in the United States is their fundraising capability. With the exception of superstar populists like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders (who raise extraordinary amounts of grassroots funds), fundraising capability is inextricably connected to whether proposed policy platforms are favored by donor bases, which regardless of party, are exclusively made up of the nation's wealthiest 1 percent, which is 82 percent white.
Their political investment pays off. 91 percent of the time the congressional candidate who raises more money wins the election. And as the nonpartisan, nonprofit research organization Maplight reveals through its bill-by-bill tracking, the yeas and nays of congressional votes tend to correlate with the level of campaign contributions a moneyed-interest has given.
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