Money Makes Campaigns Go ‘Round And ’Round

Money Makes Campaigns Go ‘Round And ’Round

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

After Watergate, the campaign finance reform movement in American clearly took over and the Federal Election Reform Act was passed by a Democratic Congress committed to reduce the abuses that were so evident in the years through the 1972 campaign. Over time, despite federal financing opportunities made available to candidates under the law, presidential aspirants have sought to fund campaigns by intensifying and encouraging the creation of PACs, bundling, and the using issue oriented outside political groups.  They have thus succeeded in amassing far more money than the Government could have given them. Finally, in 2008, candidate Obama raised over $500 million himself after rejecting federal financing; making him the first candidate to reject taxpayers money for his general election campaign.

Now that the Supreme Court handed down its opinion in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission  more money than ever is in play as funds are pouring into the SuperPAC’s like manna from heaven. Not to be out done or play by different rules than the Republicans, President Obama has now sent out the word that he wants Democrats to fill his campaign coffers as high as the Republicans so he can be assured he will be able to match his opponent in the general election.

The President certainly is as much within his rights to urge Democrats to generously support the Priorities for the USA Action Super PAC as he was in going outside federal financing to pay for his election. There is something, however, grossly disingenuous here.

The price of running for President has been sky-rocketing for years. Campaigns are much too long, media is too expensive, staffs are too large and costs are too high. The President, however, is now exploiting the very system he attacked after the Citizens United opinion was rendered.  He is as guilty as all the Republicans in capitulating to the abuses. To then suggest that doing so is the smart way to fight the excesses is truly nonsensical or as former Senator Russ Feingold said, “dumb”. 

The campaigns are now back in the hands of the super-rich, the corporations, and the unions. No amount of rationalization can change this.

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