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Campaign Finance Reform Proposal Essay

1184 words - 5 pages

In the last election cycle, 132 Americans accounted for sixty percent of all the Super Political Action Committees (PACs) money (Lessig 2013). With statistics like this, it is no wonder the average American does not feel as though his or her vote is meaningful. In the current American way of government elections, the average citizen does not choose the candidate; he or she merely deciphers which best fits his or her beliefs the best out of the ones suggested by the large election donators. The question at hand here is whether there should be an amendment that limits the amount of money corporations and organizations can give to potential political figures, as well as organizations that fund these figures?
Elected officials are not wrong for taking funds, it just confirms that the citizens are not getting the voice they are supposed to have according to the constitution. This is why year after year incumbents are reelected, but the approval rating of congress is unsettlingly low. In the 2002 congressional elections, 94% of the candidates who raised the most money won their races (Ackerman & Ayres, 2002). It is a wonder why unpopular incumbents retain their seat in office. The only explanation is funds, and the trend has always been, the candidate with the most funds wins; most notably in congress; especially incumbents.
Candidates are not all to blame for this happening, though. A great deal of the problem can be attributed to the way the system is set up. Instead of candidates focusing on key interests, they instead focus on what will allow them to earn the most money. As Leslie Byrne, former representative from Virginia, was told when coming into Congress by a fellow member, "always lean to the green” (Lessig, 2010). For members of congress and presidential candidates this means always siding with Super PACs and absurdly wealthy individuals. These are legal actions, allowed by the constitution, but are still corrupting the election system.
The reversal of the McCain Feingold Bill in the Citizens vs. the Federal Election Committee (FEC) Supreme Court case allows money to equal free speech. Without the McCain Feingold Act, otherwise known as the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), wealthy individuals have superior influence in elections. Corporations also benefit, and often have more “speech” or a greater voice in elections than actual voting citizens.
Even before the McCain Feingold Act, the Supreme Court addressed the issue of money in politics in Buckley v. Valeo. In this case the court had to decide whether or not money is free speech. The judges ruled that, in order to safeguard against corruption, it is in constitutional boundaries to restrict how much money someone can donate to a campaign. However, it also It also decided that how much a candidate can spend doesn't prevent corruption and is an unconstitutional restriction of free speech (“BUCKLEY v. VALEO”). Then in 2002, with the addition of the BCRA, further...

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