While scouring the internet for articles covering political events that I could criticise, I noticed an article on the Washington Post. There wasn’t anything particularly bad about the article, it just talked about what might happen if Hilary Clinton didn’t run for President in 2016, in particular how that would affect the Democratic nomination race.
But this isn’t the only article I see about the 2016 Presidential Election. In the past month or two I’ve seen articles covering events involving potential Presidents, and inevitably linking the story to how this will affect the Oval Office hopeful’s chances. But this is 2014; the election isn’t for two years. Compare this to British News. While we still have opinion polls on the BBC site, and articles covering the parties’ actions and views and how this has affected them in recent polls, for America, they talk as if the election is on the horizon. Indeed, after some research into the subject, I found that not only do they start talking about it several years before it actually happens, Politicians start fundraising a year before the election, in what is called the ‘invisible primary’, an non-official event where candidates start raising awareness and raising money for campaigning. In the UK, our politicians start campaigning maybe a few weeks before the election.
Another major point of difference is fundraising. In the UK, the parties spend party donations on the campaigning, with the Conservative Party raising £7.3 million through donations, and Labour raising £5.2 million. But in America, they go big, with Obama raising over $700 million dollars through donations in 2008*. This has, of course, raised concerns over corruption and the idea that those who donate the most money win the election for their candidate. However, donating money for a candidate who shares your views isn’t corrupt, not by a longshot. What is corrupt is fact that particularly rich donors and companies with a vested interest in a particular candidate are willing to go to extreme lengths to get around the regulations set by several pieces of legislation passed in order to reduce the influence of organisations, forcing parties to rely on smaller donations of individuals (Fancy that- relying on the people to get elected). This is what’s called ‘dark money’, where anonymous donors give large amounts of money to a candidate through “non-profit” organisations such as 527s (called as such for their tax-free tax code) and PACs. Both have been regulated after they popped up, but neither has been stopped. Even when it’s just individual donations, there is still a large amount of money being spent on just campaigning. 77% of Obama’s campaign in 2008 was spent on media campaigning alone. There’s an unhealthy reliance on money in America, and a very worrying implication that it takes away focus from more important issues and that it represents an elite controlling the flow of power in the country. The article I found represents an attitude that shows a lack of priorities. And this doesn’t happen at just a national level either. Congressman from the House of Representatives spend almost all of their time fundraising for their election campaign, as the elections for that half of congress are every 2 years. Hundreds of Millions are being spent in America on elections, when the debt is in the trillions. Is it really necessary to spend this much money? Perhaps if there was stronger enforcement of the regulations, instead of the Federal Elections Committee or the ‘Failure to Enforce Committee’ as it is known, the money would spent on solving issues in America through tax, rather than advertising candidates views on it.
*The money raised was over the time period of year, and was not accumulated in one big pot, as the statistic seems to suggest.