The True Cost of Election Campaigns

Complaining about how it costs much too much to run for the position of the President of the United States has become commonplace in American politics. Oddly enough, concerns about campaign contributions seem to cross party lines quite a bit. Libertarian conservatives complain about campaign contributions quite a bit, in fact, since it ties into their concerns about big government in general. Liberals complain about campaign contributions because they’re worried that these contributions are going to bias the election in such a way that the candidates that the people really want are never even going to have a chance. Conservatives tend to dislike campaign contributions for similar reasons.

Really, the people who are in favor of campaign contributions tend to be the politicians themselves, which should surprise no one, and the people who actually contribute the money in the first place. Indeed, therein lies the problem. Political elections in the United States are ruinously expensive. However, these elections are essentially funded by 0.2 percent of the American population. The success of a presidential election campaign and the quality of that campaign will make all the difference in terms of the outcomes for American politics. The best candidate for the job will still lose if he or she conducts a presidential election campaign that pales in comparison to the campaign of his or her competitor. People should never underestimate just how important presidential campaigns really are. The fact that they are controlled by such a tiny elite is the real cause for alarm, and not the fact that this tiny elite spends such a huge amount of money.

Really, it should be noted that money is all relative, as is the concept of what is and is not expensive. Elections in 2014 cost 3.7 billion dollars. However, these elections were primarily funded by wealthy individuals. A lot of people will make political contributions that are below two hundred dollars, and these contributions don’t even get itemized. However, there are plenty of wealthy people who will make political contributions that are so large they manage to more or less cancel out the political contributions of thousands of people on the other side. The contributions of the wealthy people in this process are the ones that are ultimately going to make the biggest difference in this case.

Politicians will specifically try to court wealthy campaign contributors. They know that persuading one rich person to give them millions of dollars is going to go further than persuading a million people to give them a proverbial dollar, and it is much more likely to happen. Unsurprisingly, most of these wealthy donors are only going to want to fund the candidates that serve their political interests correctly. Some wealthy people are liberals who use their money in order to finance the progressive candidates. Many more wealthy people are conservatives who are interested in holding onto what they have at all costs.

These wealthy donors would rather give eight million dollars to fund the campaign of a conservative candidate than give that same eight million dollars to the poor, even if their ultimate reward for getting the conservative elected is only going to involve maintaining their financial assets the way they are. Some of these actions are more or less going to trump practicality. Many wealthy people simply have a strong desire to maintain a certain political climate, knowing that too many changes to the political climate could influence the ways in which they are forced to conduct themselves in business.

It is true that plenty of less wealthy people will still make campaign contributions, but these are a drop in the bucket compared to the donations that individual wealthy families will make, let alone to donations that their circles at large are going to make. Incidentally, giving only around two hundred dollars to a campaign doesn’t really make you that much of a stakeholder, which is ultimately what the problem is here.

It has been said that the wealthy control American society, given that this tiny percentage of the population manages to command a huge portion of the wealth. They also control society by determining the course of elections. The poor, the middle class, and the upper middle class outnumber the very wealthy, and they could certainly get ahead by the numbers if they used their strength in numbers more. However, a tiny group of individuals still manages to gain influence in American society nonetheless.