Are American Political Campaigns Too Expensive?


Some people might argue that the way to get around the fact that wealthy people control political elections is to institute limits and caps on how much candidates can spend on their elections. It is possible that these measures could constitute part of the solution, but it is important to keep the costs of American political elections in perspective, since the cost might be exaggerated in some circles.

Many politicians make a big deal about government debt, for instance, talking about the horrors of national debt and all of the austere measures that are needed in order to combat these problems. However, it should be noted that national and public debt has always had a very minimal effect on the actual economy, even if it does have an effect on the country in its own right.

The more important factor when it comes to debt has always been private debt. People in too much private debt are not going to spend money on the goods and services that will actually cause the economy to expand. This situation encourages wealthy people to hoard away their money for the sake of a rainy day, and it causes poor people to suffer even more in their pursuit of basic necessities. The Great Depression, the Great Recession, and the bad economies that followed both the American Civil War and the final days of the Cold War are all united in the fact that private debt was on the rise. Public debt always had a negligible effect on what was going on at the time.

The situation with campaign finance reform is not directly comparable to the situation involving public and private debt, of course, but the parallel exists in terms of the way in which these issues tend to get framed in American political discourse. Liberals and conservatives alike will all talk about the horrors of public debt, and they will usually start debating about the best ways in which to remedy the situation. The idea that they should be focusing on private debt instead tends to get lost in the discussions that devolve into the eternal debate over raising taxes or supporting big business. Both parties are united in denouncing expensive political campaigns in a way that is unlikely to achieve real results, but they do not always have coherent or accurate thoughts on the subject.