Capitalism, Society, and Politics; How Politics Gets In The Way of Politics
This paper elaborates on the results of seven independent studies and
one study conducted by the researcher himself. The results from these
studies expose a dangerous threat to American politics. The Journal of
Politics found that the two reasons for such low rates of successful
House challengers were the increasing cost of elections and the
decreasing ability for challengers to produce that money. Furthermore,
Legislative Studies Quarterly determined that in 6 out of the 7 states
analyzed a person can directly influence their share of the votes by
increasing campaign expenditures. The Citizens United Supreme Court
case allowed corporations to spend unlimited sums of money in favor of
political candidates. All of these things threaten the fairness of our
electoral process and without a working campaign program we will be
without a working government.
CAPITALISM, SOCIETY, AND POLITICS: HOW POLITICS GETS IN THE WAY OF POLITICS
Clear Statement of the Problem: The way our political system works is
inherently flawed and these flaws create an ineffective government.
These flaws are important because the only thing that prevents a
government from acting effectively is what stops it from acting
effectively. Over time these flaws have manifested in different forms
and I seek to expose all of them.
Purpose of the Study: With this study I hope to expose some of the
inherent flaws of our government and politics itself. I wish to raise
general awareness of this issue because the government through
legislation directly affects each one of our lives so it’s in all of our best
interests to create the best government we can. I also hope to gain a
more intimate knowledge of the topic myself.
Political Action Committee (PAC) – A committee in which unlimited
anonymous donations can be made to candidates in an election
Significance of the Investigation: The importance of this investigation
cannot be stressed enough. The government directly affects each one
of us, through our intervention the government can be bettered, thus
bettering the quality of each of our lives and creating a healthier
- Abramowitz, A. I. (1991). Incumbency, campaign spending, and the decline of competition in US House elections. The Journal of Politics, 53(01), 34-56.
The article tells us that incumbent reelection is at all all-time high as two dangerous trends are on the rise. Both the level of money needed to adequately campaign and the ability to collect these funds is much harder for any House challenger to acquire than an incumbent. This is important because if those who have the most money win, then our government officials represent the candidate with more money instead of the candidate with better values.
- Austen-Smith, D. (1987). Interest groups, campaign contributions, and probabilistic voting. Public choice, 54(2), 123-139.
This article goes in depth about the issue of campaign contributions affecting election results and influence in policies made after the fact by that politician. It goes into how interest groups and corporations have inherent incentives to try and push forward their own policy agenda to promote their own interests. It then talks about the trade-off between a policy position for money and a policy position for votes, and how a policy position for money can still retain votes based on how that money is used to shape public perception.
- Breaux, D. A., & Gierzynski, A. (1991). " It's Money That Matters": Campaign Expenditures and State Legislative Primaries. Legislative Studies Quarterly, 429-443.
This article attempts to show to what extent increased campaign expenditures can affect voter outcome. It finds that in 6 out of 7 studied states, candidates can increase their share of votes by increasing campaign funding. They are also able to negatively affect the share of their opponent’s votes. This is very problematic because it shows a direct correlation between amount of funding and outcome of the election, if elections can be bought our government can be bought and policies can be bought as well. The rich rule.
- Gerber, A. (1998). Estimating the effect of campaign spending on senate election outcomes using instrumental variables. American Political Science Review, 401-411.
This article attempts to quantify the advantage the incumbent gains with his advantage of increased spending capabilities. His findings imply that incumbent spending has a direct correlation with incumbent reelection. This is problematic because it is not just that campaign funds have the ability to influence elections, campaign funds DO and HAVE ALREADY influenced election results.
- Hasen, R. L. (2010). Citizens United and the illusion of coherence. Mich. L. Rev., 109, 581.
The Citizens United supreme court case allowed corporations to donate unlimited funds to oppose or support any political candidate. The decision was based on upholding the first amendment right of these organizations to voice their opinion. The significance of this decision was that it allowed for discrete, unlimited sums of money to be given to any political candidate, essentially legalized bribery. It turns our political candidates into products that can be bought.
- Hanfmann, Oliver (2014). Independent American Citizen survey
- Kang, M. S. (2010). After Citizens United. Ind. L. Rev., 44, 243.
The Citizens United case struck down previous federal and state laws that made restrictions on the amount of money corporations could donate. All of these policies that restricted corporate expenditure were now nullified. This article focuses on the trend of government as previously these restrictions were upheld but an emerging trend of decreasing government campaign regulation is now dominating the Court. This leads one to wonder WHY is this trend emerging?
- Overton, S. (2004). The donor class: campaign finance, democracy, and participation. University of Pennsylvania Law Review, 73-118.
This articles refers to the extremely wealthy individuals who fund the bulk of political campaigns as the ‘donor class.’ The donor class determines which individuals will have enough money to run viable elections and undermines the value of mass political participation. It states that campaign reform should not be focused on eliminating wealth disparities between candidates, but by negating the advantage that that wealth disparity provides to the wealthier candidate.
- In what ways does our political system work against itself or against the common good of the people?
- In what areas are these different flaws similar?
- How do these flaws come about?
- If the result of a person or distinguishable group of people, who?
- If the result of a person or distinguishable group of people, why? What possible motives could there be?
- How can we go about to fix these flaws?
(sorry if this isn’t right I didn’t really know what to do and didn’t see the methodology section in the EDU notes so I googled what to do for this)
Research Paradigm: I am mainly going to use a qualitative approach, identifying and explaining relationships and individual significance of political phenomena. I will also use quantitative statistics to prove some points but by far I will be qualitatively assessing this situation.
Data Collection Procedure: I went on google scholar and searched for articles relevant to the topic. I then interviewed various American citizens to get an idea of how they feel about the campaign process. I sorted through the articles and grouped ones that were the suggesting the same conclusion or had a similar basis. Finally, I decided which statistics I would be leading with and which would serve as supporting ones.
Discuss Data Analysis and Potential Limitations: I alone will be interpreting the meaning of the gathered data. I must try to remain objective at all times, although I must acknowledge the inherent flaws of my own procedure. My perception is prone to error because I am human and not a professional on this topic so I may not be 100% right. Furthermore, there are studies that support my stance and probably studies that attack my stance on this issue, so the fact that I can support my arguments with scholarly studies doesn’t conclusively *prove* anything nor does it suggest the entire scholarly community is on my side. Lastly, I, the author, am prone to selection and preference bias, omitting and emphasizing information to make my argument appear as strong as it can be, possibly stronger than it objectively is.
What is it exactly that shapes a nation? What shapes a nation
are the policies that define the nation, and the politicians who
define the policies that will continue to define that nation. So it is
every citizen of a nation’s duty to be aware of the shady facets of
politics in that nation. In my dissertation, I attempt to raise
awareness of some of the unfavorable aspects of politics. I believe
that the current way we conduct campaigns is counterintuitive to
the aims of politics because elections require immensely large
sums of money, money has too much influence over the election
results and public opinion, and the only way candidates can raise enough
money to adequately run is to be bought out by private interest groups.
The current campaigning process lends the wealthier candidate an
unfair advantage over their competition. The Journal of Politics had this
to say, “the extraordinarily low level of competition in recent House
elections is directly attributable to two trends which affected these
elections during the 1980s: the increasing cost of House campaigns and
the declining ability of House challengers to raise campaign funds
(Abramowitz, 1991). This essentially means that those in power stay in
power. The campaign’s purpose is to give the public more access to the
various candidates so that they have a better idea of their options when it
comes time to go to the voting booth but it seems that candidates with
enough money can shape the public’s view of themselves and of their
competition. A study conducted by Legislative Studies Quarterly states
that “their analysis of primary elections indicates that candidates in six
of the seven states analyzed are able to increase their share of the
primary vote by increasing their level of campaign spending. By
increasing their own level of campaign spending they were also enabled
to directly negatively affect the share of votes that their competition
received (Breaux, 1991). This conclusion is supported by the American
Political Science Review, which found that an incumbent’s spending
advantage in the average Senate election lends him on average a 6%
increase in the incumbent’s vote share (Gerber 1998). This difference is
important because his findings imply that incumbent spending has a
direct correlation with incumbent reelection. This is problematic because
it is not just that campaign funds have the ability to influence elections,
campaign funds DO and HAVE ALREADY influenced election results.
The need for immensely large fortunes to adequately run for an
election turns politicians into products that can (and frankly have
to be in order to compete) be bought. While it is self-explanatory
while this is a bad thing, not only does it mean that politicians
themselves can be bought. It means that policies can be bought. It
means that portions of the government and the government itself
can be bought. It means that the future of a nation can be bought.
And those with the money are happy to do so. Public Choice goes
in depth on this topic.
“In Democracies, such groups (interest groups) cannot legally
buy policies. But they might nevertheless be able to influence
policy through campaign contributions. Contributions may either
be made to affect the election outcome or to obtain influence over
legislative decision-making by the successful candidate (or both).
In the first case, interest groups seek simply to promote the
electoral chances of their favored candidate, taking that candidate’s
policy position as fixed. In the second case, the groups may not
have a preference but wish to ‘buy’ access to the successful
candidate.” (Austen-Smith 1987) And this trend is only
exacerbated by current policies.
The controversial Citizens United supreme court allowed “an absolutist
vision of the First Amendment that allows corporations to spend
unlimited sums of money independently to support or oppose candidates
running for office” (Hasen 2010). “The decision explicity overruled
longstanding Court precedents and struck down as unconstitutional
federal prohibitions on the use of corporate treasury funds for campaign
expenditures in connection with federal elections. In short, federal law
that blocked corporations from spending treasury funds on federal
campaign speech was struck down, and by extension, similar state laws
were struck down as they applied to state and local elections (Kang
2010). It’s so obvious that allowing corporations to spend unlimited
sums of money to influence elections is a bad thing, it makes you
wonder why they passed it. But this special ‘elite’ access to politics
skews the intent of politics to give us the best or most representative
candidate. According to a study conducted by the University of
Pennsylvania Law Review, “ Less than one percent of the U.S.
population makes financial contributions over $200 to federal
candidates, and these contributions represent the vast majority of funds
that candidates receive from individuals. Of those who contribute over
$200, approximately 85 percent have household incomes of $100,000 or
more, 70 percent are male, and 96 percent are white. This donor class
effectively determines which candidates possess the resources to run
viable campaigns” (Overton 2004). Allowing 1% of the nation to shape
elections, election results, and candidate’s policy platforms shapes the
future of the nation, and we cannot allow such a non-representative,
miniscule minority to shape the future for all of us. And we know this,
fourteen out of fifteen American citizens feel the current campaign
process the ridiculously high cost of campaigning makes it so only the
ultra-rich can campaign (Hanfmann, 2014). Out of those 14, 10 agreed
that a government full of the ultra-rich will yield a government that
serves the ultra-rich. My conclusion is that we must reform the
campaign process and legislature relative to the campaign process, and
once that is done, better candidates will be enabled to run, and we will
finally have real options for who we want to lead the nation rather than
which terrible candidate is the least terrible.