Financing Elections Essay, Research Paper
Financing elections is one of the major and disputable problems that American politics face presently. Analysts became worried that the rising costs of campaigns distort elections in the interests who have the money. Also another problem that worried people and analysts was that the politics seemed to be leaving the realm of political parties, and those who had the money to afford expensive media campaigns won the privilege of governing us. Next reformers required and applied new reforms in the campaign financing.
Many more people are concerned about where the money for campaigns comes from. This type of concern led to the laws that prohibit individuals from contributing large sums of money to specific campaigns. The assumption is that these individuals contribute huge sums of money in hope of some later benefit.
Let me talk a little about history of reforms. Reformers put restrictions on campaign money for more than a century. In 1907, the Tillman Act prohibited contributions from corporations and national banks to candidates for federal office. Enforcement and further legislation to restrict campaign money were weak. for decades after that, until the Watergate scandal erupted before the 1972 election. Secret and illegal contributions had been made to Nixon?s re-election campaign in1972. Congress responded by amending a 1971 law that required reporting of campaign contributions and expenditures. The amendments imposed strict limits on both contributions to candidates and parties and spending by candidates in federal elections. An individual, for example, could give a maximum of $1,000 to a candidate for federal office and $20,000 to a political party.
But the major change in the funding came with the case Buckley v. Valeo. Conservative New York Sen. James Buckley and liberal former Minnesota Sen.
Eugene McCarthy challenged the law. They argued that the limits in the law
violated their own First Amendment rights as candidates, as well as the rights of
campaign contributors and political and other organizations. They filed suit against Francis Valeo, secretary of the U.S. Senate. An appeals court supported most of the law, and the challenge moved to the Supreme Court, where it was argued in November 1975.
So what did the court actually decide? It ruled that the post-Watergate limit placed on the amount of money a candidate for federal office might spend was an
unconstitutional violation of the candidate?s freedom of speech. Another provision
of the law, limiting the amount of money that individuals and organizations could
contribute to a candidate, was deemed not to be unconstitutional, because it served
the important interest of preventing corruption.
Campaign spending by candidates, the court reasoned, was closely related to
political speech, which the court has always given the highest level of First
Amendment protection. Campaign money is spent on flyers, campaign advertising
and generally getting the candidate?s message out? are all political speech.
While striking down the limits on campaign spending, the court said limits were
permissible for presidential candidates who agreed to the limits in exchange for
federal funding of their campaigns.
Sources of campaign funds:
So nowadays, generally, campaign funds come from the following sources: the candidate himself or herself, other individuals, political action committees, political parties, and public financing.
In the prenomination phase of the presidential election, contributions come from three sources-individual contributions, PAC contributions and federal matching funds. PAC contributions play a minor role in presidential nominating politics than they do in congressional elections. In short, the sources of funds for the presidential primaries are basically individual contributions and public matching funds.
Even as millions in contributions fuel the presidential campaigns of Al Gore and George W. Bush, both candidates say they want to reduce that excess of money next time. Even as the presidential candidates decry soft money (independent donations that support candidates without being coordinated with the candidate?s campaign) it still flows ever faster into party coffers. Both Gore and Bush have attacked the use of ?soft money?. Gore says he would do away with this kind of donation altogether, while Bush would only ban soft-money contributions from labor unions and corporations.
This year?s elections are the most expensive campaign cycle in American history, with an estimated cost of $3 billion. (show transparencies).
Critics say that because the Buckley decision left campaign spending unregulated,
the demand for money in politics has increased uncontrollably, creating incentives
to get around the contribution limits
Nonetheless, many organizations and scholars still argue that the First Amendment does, and should, prevent restrictions on campaign money. So for most of the part the issue of financing campaigns is pretty disputable and is going to be changed over the time for sure.