“The Lonely Death Of Public Campaign Financing” Summary And Critical Response

1382 words - 6 pages

Marquette University’s Assistant Professor of Law, Richard Esenberg, is doubtful of the effectiveness of a project that will restructure campaign finance. He foresees the near impossibility of the passage of a bill, along with many drawbacks in similar attempts to miraculously restore democracy to American citizens. Although this is a greatly debated and doubtful topic, there is still hope in the power of the people. While there may be instances where wealthy donors provide a better democratic election, in a land of the people; the majority of the voting population should control the few politicians that run the government.
Esenberg’s beginning argument relies strongly on the evidence that the money spent on campaign finance is relatively small compared to “movies, automobiles, and beer”; and campaigns are arguably much more important (Esenberg, 2010). Donors purchasing influence in government have strong motives and many ways in which to persuade or motivate politicians. To stop these donors, considering the current amount of media outlets, is a seemingly daunting task. When it comes to the topic of Campaign Finance Reform, most will readily agree that it will benefit democracy in America. Where that agreement usually ends, however, is on the question of the degree of how the reform plans to do so. Whereas some are convinced that a reform will have profound effects on voting, Esenberg maintains that it would be unlikely for it to produce further democracy amongst voters (Esenberg, 2010).
On the other hand, a sociological view of contributing is that contributions may be best understood as “gifts” rather than “purchases”, according to Clayton Peoples of the University of Nevada Sociology Department (Peoples, 2013). With this understanding, the contributions are more symbolic than representative of their actual value. This undermines Esenberg’s thoughts on the importance of the size of donations made through campaign contributions, and instead claims that the fact of just “giving” itself is at the core of the problem. Corruption in this sense is not actual law-breaking, but instead is the influence of political relationships that candidates and incumbents maintain overtime. Although this is only a small difference, it has major ramifications for the amount of money that is desirable for donors to give. This, in effect, could mean that the idea of the limit itself is more powerful than the actual limit set.
Esenberg goes on to reiterate that the Supreme Court’s ruling on candidate fundraising; stating that the ability for candidates to bring in donations is considered a legal advantage amongst candidates (Esenberg, 2010). Limiting this ability would benefit the candidates that are not strong in gathering donations. This is solely based on the communicating and networking factor of candidates. Reducing the power of candidates would allow the media to have a greater impact on the public donations (Esenberg, 2010). The small donors in the public...

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