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Essay about Campaign Finance and its harms on the political process


Recently Americans show an overwhelming mistrust and approval of Congress. While it is true that both sides of American politics blame each other, the disapproval of Congress multi-partisan. Most average Americans have strong feelings of misrepresentation. A root cause the defectiveness of Congress is money in politics, otherwise known as campaign-finance. Campaign-finance is a general term that refers to the laws and practices concerning political campaign funding. Americans should work to ban campaign-finance because money in politics stifles political competition, fosters political corruption, and diminishes the political representation of average Americans.

Campaign-finance creates numerous problems which stifle the American political process. However, one major problem is that money in politics stifles political competition. There are significant amounts of evidence that prove that money in politics is solely advantageous for political incumbents. One of the main reasons for this advantage is name recognition.Political incumbents enjoy wider media coverage resulting from more interviews, appearances, and event invitations. Political incumbents enjoy high name recognition among party leaders and power players which increase incumbents' chances of re-election.

It is important that American voters work to out-right ban campaign-finance because merely limiting the amount of money in politics is ineffective in curbing the damage to the political process that campaign-finance creates. This is the case because incumbents draw more public funds because of their name recognition (Raphel, "The Financial Incumbency"). Limiting campaign donation amounts is solely advantageous for political incumbents because the name recognition of incumbents creates a larger pool of possible donors. Limiting campaign contribution amounts is only beneficial for political incumbents because incumbents possess a more significant number of corporate and special interest group ties. Simply, incumbents possess a far bigger Rolodex with higher monetary yield than outsiders. Concerning this, Alexandra Raphels of Journalist's Resources reports that almost half a century ago incumbents outspent challengers three to two whereas today, with tougher campaign-finance laws, this advantage has risen to four to one (Raphel, "The Financial Incumbency"). With this, it is clear that while there are more limits and regulations concerning money in politics, incumbents' advantage to raise money continues to increase.

Furthermore, the advantage that incumbent officeholders enjoy creates political stagnation and a disconnect between incumbents and new public views. This stagnation results from a lack of new political talent entering Congress. This stagnation also occurs because local politicians face difficulties entering U.S Congress because of campaign-finance. State-level politicians are exceptional potential United States Congress members because they bring state-level ideas to the national level. State-level politicians are excellent potential Untied States Congress members because local connections hold former state-level politicians more accountable. Campaign-finance hinders state legislative races that are the primary entrances for future Congress members. Members of Congress who are former state-level politicians make the majority of United States Congress members. Members of Congress who are former state-level officeholders create a vital track record by which voters evaluate such members.

Aside from campaign-finance stifling political competition, the presence of money in politics fosters political corruption. There is an abundance of research which states that the process of acquisition of wealth skews moral behavior and fosters corruption in individuals. Seven separate research studies conducted by University of California Berkeley campus, in the San Francisco Bay Area, and nationwide concluded that, when primed, individuals are more likely to engage in unethical behavior. The doctoral research correlates greed and acquisition of money to aggressive, unethical conduct. Behavior patterns of individuals prove that the existence of a system that induces the accumulation of wealth increase chances of corrupt and unethical behavior. Behavior patterns of individuals concerning corruption apply even more to politicians because of politicians' proximity to behavioral triggers.

To understand why voters must work to completely work to ban campaign-fiance, it is important to realize that any system put in place to stop corruption is subject to the same universal truths that apply to all other systems. The field of logic may seem irreverent in a discussion about campaign finance, but it is not. In 1931, the logician Kurt Gödel publishes a proof that has shakes the very foundation mathematics and human's understanding of truth. Gödel proves that every formal system is either incomplete or inconsistent (WikiMedia, "Gödel's incompleteness theorems"). A formal system is any system that has a defines a set of axioms-statements or propositions, e.g., a system of laws aiming to stop a practice. Regarding complain-finance, Gödel's proof means that any defined and consistent set of legislation that serves as a governing system for campaign-finance is logically incomplete and therefore prone to legal loophole exploitation and circumvention. The existence of any system of campaign-finance laws merely presents an opportunity for potential corruption and system circumvention and. Any defined and inconsistent set of laws cannot serve as effective means to curb corrupt practices and are not legislated. Many politicians including exploit campaign-finance loopholes to raise unlimited funds through political action committees (super PACs). A case involving former Florida governor Jeb Bush clarifies the relevance of Gödel's proof at play. Aliya Frumin of MSNBC reports:

By not officially jumping in the race, the former Florida governor doesn't have to abide by the hard money rules of presidential campaigns, which cap primary donations at just $2,700 per individual

Essentially, Jeb Bush does not abide by campaign-finance laws during the presidential campaign. Namely, a law that limits individual donations to $2,700 (Frumin, "Jeb Bush exploits"). Aside from the national stage, many politicians exploit campaign-finance laws at the state level. The Alabama Fair Campaign Practices Act says that political funding must cease the day of the election unless the candidate has debt at the end of the campaign. By current campaign finance laws it is perfectly legal for the candidate to make a personal loan to the campaign, then claim that the campaign is in debt. This loophole allows the campaign three additional months to raise more funds even if the campaign does not entirely spend the personal loan. These types of practices are rampant in the political system.

A further implication of money in politics is that it increases lobbying activities that foster political corruption. One example of this is that lobbyist deliberately present gifts that are hard to track or classify to entice lawmakers. Lobbyists use the ambiguity of classification to their advantage. Who is to say whether a lobbyist is inviting a policymaker for an expensive dinner on a friendship basis or political bases? Is the lobbyist bribing the policymaker with such offers, or is it strictly social? Moreover, There are plenty of reported instances where lobbyist gift tickets to sporting and private events. For example, a lobbyist for Georgia Tech gives free sporting event tickets to multiple state and national lawmakers. Some of the lawmakers receiving the free tickets are six members of the House Appropriations Committee. These same very Congress members determine the university system's budget. Such incidences make it clear that it is no coincident that lobbyists handpick their target with a specific interest in mind. In another example of corruption, President Richard Nixon bankrolls the infamous Watergate break-in with campaign contributions. In fact, the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) concludes that money for the espionage operation traces back to a secret slush account of undocumented Presidential campaign contributions. To minimize any suspicion, partakers in the espionage operation launder the money with the help of a Mexican bank.

Another reason to completely ban money in politics is that the interplay of money and politics diminishes the political representation or ordinary Americans. Campaign-finance leads to disproportionate access to officeholders by those who donate the most. Officeholders disproportionately give access to wealthy contributors to increase campaign funds. This practice was so prevalent that in 2003, the Supreme Court hears the case of McConnell v. FEC. As a result, the court provisions the definition of undue influence to include undue access to politicians by top contributors. The court goes on to explain that the definition expansion was necessary as it deems this unwarranted access a significant threat to the American democratic political process. The fact that the wealthy have more access to policymakers is troubling. Essentially it means that constituents pay taxes while receiving little or no representation as a result of political representatives elevating the concerns of wealthy donors above constituents. Access of elites to policy makers results in a hardship for poor constituents to meet with political representatives to address grievances or concerns. After all, policymakers only have so much time to give for a meeting with constituents. Practically, the practice leads to of taxation without adequate representation.

Also, concerning misrepresentation, campaign-fiance diminishes equal political representation because it provides an opportunity for lobbyist and special interests groups to influence lawmakers regarding laws that are solely beneficial for the lobbyists and special interest groups. Like many, Senator Max Baucus of Montana, who is a key congress member in President Obama's healthcare proposal, receives considerable contributions from healthcare corporations who seek to influence vote and bill proposal. There is plenty of evidence regarding lawmakers who write, vote on laws on concerning lobbyists. "Reports from the New York Times and Mother Jones revealed that language in the final legislation was nearly identical to language suggested by lobbyists" (Shang, "When Lobbyists Literally"). The practice of lobbyists writing the actual language of bills is prevalent in U.S. Politics. The practice of lobbyist writing the language of bills leads policymakers not to read important parts of bills. Statistics from the Center for Responsive Politics show that 12,000 lobbyists spent more than three billion dollars in attempts to influence the language of federal laws. Lobbyist frequently meet with politicians to discuss provisions of bills. Lobbyists regularly engage in pressure tactics to affects votes of political representatives.

Money in politics diminishes equal political representation because it forces lawmakers to spend significant amounts of time fundraising instead of focusing on real issues. U.S. Congress members spend a considerable part of the work day calling prospective donors in a persuasive effort to collect funds. On average, U.S. Congress members spend less than three hours a day performing legislative duties. Because of fundraising, Congress members only work for three hours in the legislative floor. As a result of Congress members spending a significant amount of time fundraising, they often vote on bills that they have not read. From this, it is clear that three hours is nowhere near sufficient to represent thousands of people adequately. The fact that policymakers spend only three hours on the congressional floor goes against the expectation most if not all voters.

Additionally, campaign-finance diminishes individual political representation and elevates corporate interest above individual welfare. There have are many instances where policymakers elevate the interest of drug companies over individuals because pharmaceutical companies donate large amount of money. If fact, the pharmaceutical industry is one of the top contributes on capitol hill. The pharmaceutical lobby routinely influences policymakers to turn a blind eye to outrageous drug prices to the detriment of constituents. Even so, the campaign contributions that lead to this are irresistible to policymakers. In fact not only do some law makers peruse the interest of corporations to collect contributions, some actually do it to signal a willingness to work for the benefit of other corporations. Gregory Ferenstein of Techcrunch reports that "Intuit has spent $11.5 million lobbying the federal government - more than Apple or Amazon" (Ferenstein, "TurboTax Maker Funnels"). The fact that Intuit spends millions lobbying federal policymakers to prevent the streamlining of tax filing highlights how the interest of corporations often opposes the interest of most average Americans. This is because streamlining the tax filing process is not in the interest of Intuit; it means fewer sales of Intuit's tax filing software. As a result, politicians who successfully help the likes of Intuit receive more contributions because by helping Intuit they successfully signal that they're welling to work for the interest of other corporations and the corporate tax lobby.

It is not an easy task for voters to force congress to change campaign-finance laws because of all the aforementioned. Additionally, lawmakers that make legislation concerning campaign finance are the very ones that are corrupt. Because of this, it is not realistic or efficient to try to change current policymakers. Instead, the push should be to elevate local politicians who show a concern for this very issue. It is difficult to hold most politicians liable for the corrupt campaign finance system because it is seldom mentioned in the election process. However, it is difficult for hopefuls who run with the goal of reform to then deviate or change their positions. Such politicians have to be wary of changing their views while in office, because their stance on the matter is responsible for their rise.

It is no secret that American requires a dramatic reform. Political disagreement amongst Americans is at at an all time high. The American ideological gag widnes every day because of self-centric policymaker. Approval of Congress is at a record low, yet constituents are voting in the same politicians whom they despise. A sound democracy requires informed voters who are also active. It is significantly difficult for career power-brokers and lawmakers to take to exploit informed voters. But no method is more efficient than complete elimination. In realizing this, and understanding how money in politics disadvantages every day Americans hindering political competition, increasing political corruption, and diminishing the political representation of average Americans, all Americans should take part in banning campaign finance and restoring America's democracy.

Nov 7, 2016   #2
Babiker, when you are working on a research paper such as this, it is important to properly introduce the topic of your discussion. That means, you need to present a fully developed thesis statement within the introductory paragraph. That will set the tone for discussion and also give the reader an idea as to what kind of information to expect as the research progresses. I did not see any proper reference to the topic of the research. You should add that in about one or two sentences towards the end of the opening paragraph. That will work wonders in terms of allowing the reader to properly read the content you are presenting instead of feeling confused about the information gathered.

As for your sources, professors and teachers often frown on the use of any Wiki site as a reference. I suggest that you stick to only academic sources and websites such as those that end in .org, .gov, or .edu. These are the only valid websites that educators consider authoritative in the research papers of their students.


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