Political Reform and Soft Money
There can be no doubt that American politics involves too much money. In the 2000 election cycle, the Democratic Party raised over 520 million dollars. Even this insane figure pales in comparison to the republican's 715 million. Despite these staggering figures, the real issue is not the money itself, but its effect on policy decisions. We've heard about 'soft money' for years, but its impact is rarely discussed.
First of all, soft money allows an individual to donate more than his allotted maximum to a particular candidate by using an organization - a state party, for example - as a middleman. They donate to the given organization, and the organization uses their donation in the campaign of the candidate that the donor supports.
One example of this situation is the oil/energy industry. They support the republican party's stance on the environment, and their donations show this. They attempt to influence the election with money, thereby solidifying their interests(1).
|Election Cycle||Total Contributions||Soft Money||Donations to||Donations to||Percent to||Percent to|
|2002 so far||$5,380,345||$2,627,694||$1,017,599||$4,305,246||19%||80%|
Simply put, there is too much money in politics. The votes of large donors are worth more than the votes of average citizens. And even when legislation is introduced that would reform the present state of campaign financing, it often gets modified by congress, and in effect, waters down its impact. The first step towards campaign finance reform is to show politicians that we care about the issue, and then elect people who are willing to tackle the problem.
1: All the statistical figures on this page are based on Federal Election Commission data released on Monday, October 01, 2001 and November 01, 2001. All numbers are credited to the Center for Responsive Politics, as reprinted through www.opensecrets.org
2: Showdown at Gucci Gulch : Lawmakers, Lobbyists, and the Unlikely Triumph of Tax Reform by Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, Alan S. Murray (Contributor). Pub. by Random House Inc. 1987.