Without the pouring of corporate money into politics, the majority of candidates will not able to campaign in their district, let alone nationwide. Without corporate money, many societal and environmental issues like global warming, immigration, healthcare to name a few, would have never been brought to light for the average American to know.
I am Dr. Bobb Rousseau. In today’s episode, I explain how corporate money influences American political decisions and public policy. By the end of this episode, you will know how the rich individuals utilisé their money to finance the campaigns of candidates they are sure will pass legislation on their behalf.
A handful of wealthy individuals finance the campaign of thousands of lawmakers at the federal and state levels. Although they call their donations political charity or independent contributions, we all know that their actions are politically motivated as they contribute to influencing the political process, especially how Congress and state legislators pass laws and appropriate funds to special social programs.
Before 2010, there were restrictions on how much money companies could give to candidates. On January 21, 2010, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the United States Supreme Court allowed corporations and other outside groups to spend unlimited funds on elections as long as the candidates report to the FEC the amount of money they receive. The United States Supreme Court decision put a limit on how much an individual can give per election cycle through Political Action Committees but it does not limit how much a company can give through Super Political Action Committees. The latter can receive unlimited contributions from individuals, corporations, and labor unions to finance independent expenditures and other independent political activity.
The decision by many companies to cut funding to the 147 U.S. Congress elected officials who voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election, proved that corporate money plays a big role in American politics. According to OpenSecrets.org, in 2010, super PACs spent $63 million in state and federal elections. By 2020, that figure was $2.1 billion. According to another analysis by STAT, in 2020, 2,467 state lawmaker campaigns receive money from pharmaceutical companies. BigPharma companies fund political campaigns of candidates who likely will vote to keep drug prices high or keep other pharmaceutical companies from entering the drug market. That year, the drug industry wrote over 10,000 individual checks totaling more than $10 million. Companies finance elections to put pressure on the government to pass laws and vote legislation that will benefit them.
Corporate money leads to centralized power, increases voting inequality, and legalizes above board corruption as it gives the wealthy political power and influence to keep imposing their legislative agenda on Congress and state legislatures. Companies donate to help elect candidates they hope will do their industry’s bidding or support a specific cause.
With corporate money comes legislation and lawmakers to block them or pass them. David Primo wrote in his latest book that the influx of large sums of money into politics damages trust in government, suppresses voter turnout, puts corporate interests first, and results in corruption.
Corporate money shuts down the voices of ordinary Americans whose votes, unless aligned with corporate greed, do not really count. Most of the corporate donations are dark money, meaning that PACs and SuperPACs mask the identities of their donors. At a time where many political and human rights organizations are holding debates and formulating arguments over election integrity and the basic fairness of the American democratic process; pouring corporate money into politics destroys people’ trust in their leaders’ abilities to do the job they were elected to do without any pressure from big donors.
Many scholars proposed stopping corporate political giving altogether to help the people regain trust in government and in the political system. She said that there is no reason to allow corporate America to donate to political campaigns because they pour money in politics to seek profits for their companies. However, I argue that corporate money is a double-edged sword and although it boosts big companies’ political influence; without it, many societal and environmental issues like global warming, immigration, healthcare to name a few, would have never been brought to light for the average American and ultimately have an opinion about it.
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