The influence of money on political matters has always been a prominent issue. Protesters were incensed when a 2010 decision by the Supreme Court found it unconstitutional to prohibit independent donations by unions and corporations. This decision temporarily quieted people who believed that big money had no place in politics, but the 2016 presidential campaign season has brought campaign finance reform back into the spotlight.
2012’s presidential campaign was the most expensive in United States history; Barack Obama spent approximately $1.1 billion on his campaign, and Mitt Romney was a close second with $1 billion devoted to securing the presidency. This season, campaign finance reform is a hot topic, and members of the public as well as political experts are debating the benefits and drawbacks of publicized political spending. A Florida mailman recently landed a gyrocopter in front of the U.S. Capitol to show the public’s dissatisfaction with the domination of politics by the wealthy. Political insiders are following suit and expressing how they would reform the current political spending climate.
Hilary Rodham Clinton has adamantly vocalized her opposition to big money in politics. She referred to the current campaign finance system as “dysfunctional.” Clinton also said that campaign finance reform is a top priority and claimed that she would see it rectified with a constitutional amendment if it was needed to make changes. Her current stance on the issue is similar to her husband’s during his own presidential campaign. However, Bill Clinton abandoned the fight for campaign finance reform after some Democratic lawmakers opposed the issue. In town hall meetings across the country, Clinton’s GOP opponents have provided their own opinions on the the wealthy’s power over politics.
While preparing to meet with top fundraisers in Miami Beach, Republican Jeb Bush stated that he believed spending $1 billion on a campaign was unnecessary and added that a politically savvy team could be successful while spending less money. However, Bush himself has aggressively supported and raised money for independent organizations that are affiliated with his potential campaign. Some political experts speculate that this is a strategy to reduce major campaign costs by funneling in money from these organizations.
Republican Senator Rand Paul, a possible presidential candidate, stated that he wants the spending of political funds to be limited by federal contractors. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, another possible candidate, said that he supports limitless spending as long as the donors’ names and organizations are made public.
From new super PAC groups to protesters dressed as Paul Revere, campaign finance reform is receiving national attention. Some people, including many progressive Democrats, believe that there should be full disclosure when a campaign receives large sums of money from independent corporations and unions. Many Republican conservatives and others believe disclosure would be unnecessary and that this information should be private.
Meanwhile, the sheer expensiveness of campaign finances is another issue altogether, especially for those who believe that this money would be better spent elsewhere. Regardless of anyone’s beliefs, it’s likely that the 2016 presidential campaign season will include several campaign finance reform discussions.