Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Price is no object.

The Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court case has opened the door for corporations to donate to political campaigns.  Many people are concerned with the idea of "unlimited money" in political campaigns, and this week's article addresses this issue. 

The article writers found that money spent on advertising yielded significant, measurable gains for political candidates when it came to changes in polling.  More importantly, in cases where a candidate was not advertising regularly, their opponent(s) would enjoy an advantage at the polling station that would increase depending on how disparate the difference in advertising was.  This means that candidates are punished for not maintaining parity when it comes to advertising, and the effect of an advertising blitz by a campaign with deep pockets over a less well-heeled campaign could result in a shift of 2-4 percent.  To put that in perspective, 13 presidential races have been won with margins of less than 4%, many in the modern era. 

The Koch brothers are often vilified for their stated desire to influence political campaigns.  They are well-known conservative businessmen who have promised nearly 1 billion dollars to political figures in 2016.  Many people see this as the brothers putting politicians in their pockets.  However, I think this is only one possible interpretation.  Many people fail to consider the case of the "true believer".  Charles and David Koch are engineering a world where their beliefs and morals are shared by people of importance in the three branches of government, and their expenditures can't be simply written off as the cost of doing business.  While our ability to sculpt society through its leaders may be limited to our single votes or putting a sign up on our lawns, the Koch brothers are in a position where they are able to actively affect multiple political contests in multiple locations through their donations of large sums of money.  The candidates that win then go on to rescind "objectionable" laws, write new bills, appoint similar-thinking judges, ratify trade agreements and mobilize our military forces.

It has never been more clear that money is political and social power.

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