Money in politics

Commentary by
ZACH DYER

I wrote an article last week about how the U.S. Congress is currently operating at its highest polarization and lowest approval rating in recorded history. Many believe that the reason for this is the two party system with which we are operating; I disagree. With a two party system, there are two factions going against each other, with one usually going against the president. Adding a third-party will only exacerbate the problem by having two parties go against the president versus only one.

What needs to be looked at, in my opinion, is the money — the money being spent to win these elections in the Senate, in the House and in the run for President. According to the Sunlight Foundation, $31, 976 donors, basically 1 percent of 1 percent of the population in the United States, accounted for $1.18 billion in disclosed political contributions in 2014.

Is it right that such a small percentage of people play such a huge role in who will be leading our country?
According to The Atlantic, the cost of winning a seat in the Senate costs more now than ever before, with the same going for the House.

Disclosed Super PAC contributions accounted for over $400 million in political action donations in 2010, but in 1978 super PACs gave just $34.1 million to candidates. Even after accounting for inflation, this is a huge rise.
The sunlight foundation notes that 84 percent of those elected in 2012 took more money from the 1 percent of the 1 percent of donors than they did from all of their small donors (individuals who gave $200 or less) combined.

Lee Drutman, a political scientist, notes that republicans depending on the 1 percent of the 1 percent tend to be more conservative; there is no observable relationship, though, among Democrats.

So is this what is creating the polarization in politics today? Is it that those with the most money are leaning more to the right, and therefore pushing our Congress in that direction? It’s hard to say, and without more investigation, making a statement like that could be blatantly wrong.

What needs to be done now has less to do with pointing fingers, and more to do with an intelligent examination into the financial faults that plague our country today.

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