CRITICS OF THE INFLUENCE GAME are quick to go after lobbyists, but campaign finance is another area where nearly unlimited amounts of money (via Super PACs) can drastically influence elections and, by extension, the political system as a whole. In recent years, we’ve seen a rise in extremely wealthy individuals on both sides of the aisle throwing their financial clout behind particular candidates. These campaign financiers include the Koch Brothers, George Soros, Sheldon Adelson, and Tom Steyer.
However, politicians are typically hesitant to reform campaign finance; after all, they’re the beneficiaries of all of this cash—until this year. According to the Washington Post, the answer is yes; in fact, it’s poised to become a major campaign issue. The Post notes that Hillary Clinton recently promised to reform the campaign finance system as part of her Presidential platform, while other potential candidates, such as Chris Christie, have also paid lip service to the idea.
Stuart Rothenberg of Roll Call argues, however, that the Post if way off base. Rothenberg contends that in other major election years, such as 2012, voters will ultimately overlook campaign finance and vote for the candidate based on partisanship and mood, even if they care about campaign finance reform. After all, both the GOP (the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson) and the Democratic Party (George Soros and Tom Steyer) have billionaire donors backing candidates.
The real answer probably falls somewhere in between. While it’s true that in the past, neither voters nor politicians have seemed inclined to take action on campaign finance, but the fact that the issue is being discussed so early in the Presidential election cycle suggests that change is happening. It remains to be seen whether this is just lip service or if we’ll see substantive election finance reform.