According to donation statistics for the 2016 election, just under 1.5 Billion dollars in campaign contributions was raised. For a moment, forget about Republican vs Democrat and think about that number. The percentage of the US population that donated $200 or more was just 0.68%! Only one tenth of one percent of the adult population gave $2,700 or more. Just 2,910 donors gave $100,000 or more.
Those are the numbers, so what’s your reaction? My first reaction is to think about all the good that $1.5B could do if it wasn’t wasted on politics. My second reaction is that a tiny number of people are investing huge sums of money into political campaigns, and to what end? It is folly to believe that these folks are investing these huge sums without expecting something in return.
Now add in the facts that most elected politicians begin worrying about reelection the moment they take office, and that getting elected in our current system requires huge sums of money. It does not take a great stretch of the imagination to come to the conclusion that less than 3000 people actually control our government, We The People be damned!
I also have a third reaction. Given that almost all of the money raised is spent on the campaigns, just what is this $1.5B being spent on? Who is receiving and profiting from this spending? Is this a whole cottage industry that contributes to the economy and creates jobs? The answer to this is probably ‘yes’, and this may be the only positive aspect of this entire mess of an election process.
However, because the money is basically being spent on the creation and dissemination of information to American voters, via media outlets, campaign speeches, and thousands of other avenues, there is one salient fact that is so caustic and destructive that any small benefit from all this spending becomes irrelevant. What fact am I talking about?
The fact is that there are absolutely no limitations on, or controls over, the validity and truthfulness of the information being disseminated! Politics is exempt from any “Truth In Advertising” regulations. There are no consequences for committing slander, libel, or defamation of character when it comes to politics. So basically, $1.5B can be, and mostly is, spent on deceiving the American voter. Whomever spends the most on the biggest lies wins! Thus a phrase I like to repeat: “A voter deceived is a right to vote denied!”
There is at least one caveat to all of this. Like everything else in life, it is not this simple and straight-forward. Yes, it’s true that in 2016, the Democrats raised more and spent more than the Republicans. And it is probably true that the Democrats had as many big-time donors as well. But it would be a very large disservice to the truth and reality to simply lump both Parties and all politicians into the same bucket of crap. Yes, we MUST get the big money out of politics and have publicly funded campaigns and somehow take all the lies out of politics, but if you pay attention to the content and tone of Republican campaigns vs. Democrat campaigns, and more importantly, look at the actions of these politicians while in office, it is crystal clear that “We The People” are VASTLY better served by the Democrats than the Republicans. As long as the GOP is in control, our election system will only get worse. The only hope lies with getting Democrats in control first, flawed as they are, and then work towards a better system.