If America ever wants to shed our cynical, accurate view of our political system being solely a game for the rich, we must—must!—reform the way we finance political campaigns. This week, Congress is determined to take a big step in the wrong direction.
One element contained in a massive spending bill that Congress is debating this week: a new law that "would increase the amount individuals could donate to national parties tenfold," by not only raising the limits on individual giving to political parties, but also allowing individuals to give to various funding committees dedicated to specific purposes, like funding political conventions. The Washington Post calculates that "Under the language in the bill, a couple could give as much as $3.1 million to a party's various national committees in one election cycle."
An individual couple—Mr. and Mrs. Corporate CEO, for example—would be able to give more than ***three million dollars*** to, say, the Republican Party for the upcoming presidential election. Perhaps the most distressing part of all this is that some campaign finance watchers are presenting this as progress, because it will help to give more funding and power back to the parties themselves, rather than the enormous and unaccountable Super PACs that now form a shadow financing world in our fucked political system. It is a victory, they say, for "transparency" in who funds our elections.
Big deal. Transparency is nice, but it does not solve the underlying problem. If someone shoots you in the head, then reveals their identity to the world, you've still been shot in the head. The underlying problem is that political influence in America can be bought. Political power is merely an investment. Our political parties represent moneyed interests, not the citizenry at large. Redirecting huge sums of money into the political parties does nothing to change that. It simply codifies our current awful system of the extremely rich being feted and treated like royalty by the elected officials who are supposed to be representing us all.
Stricter donation limits. Public financing of campaigns. That is what we need. We should note that this same bill also rolls back regulations of Wall Street derivatives, and that it is being strongly opposed by Elizabeth Warren. Dang. If only she were running for president.