Finn: Donations dictate political campaigns

Taylor Finn

April 2 of this year was a big day. Unnoticed by many — and hardly covered by the national media — the Supreme Court ruled that limiting donations to political candidates was unconstitutional, because it denied an individual the right to free speech.

Up until now, congress placed limits on the amount of money individuals could donate to a particular politician’s campaign. They did this in hopes to prevent American policy makers from being bought off by the fortunate few. What the Supreme Courts ruling did was remove those limits.

If you are a middle class individual who uses income to buy food and put a roof over your head, and simply do not have an extra 100,000 dollars lying around somewhere to donate, you should be concerned.

More so if you are a broke college student, with hardly enough money to buy food and put a roof over your head, then you should be worried about this ruling.

What the court has done is further silence our voices. How is the middle class supposed to compete with extremely deep pocketed individuals donating to these campaigns?

The wealthy donate to politicians most often not because they think the candidate can create a positive change for America as a whole, but because they believe their donation will buy them the candidates ear, and therefore the ability to further their personal endeavors. 

With large donations comes a great amount of persuasion and power. Let’s face it, a presidential candidate will sit down to lunch with the a wealthy business owner before they sit down with a teacher, janitor or student.

Not because a candidate would not value a teacher’s opinions or care about a student’s thoughts, but because they know that a conversation with the owner of an oil company will result in donations. Whereas a conversation with a middle class individual will result in good input and ideas, but probably much less money. And everyone knows that in the end, money is what drives decisions, shapes policies and establishes opinions.

I am fearful for what this ruling means. If the lower and the middle class cannot get their voices heard or their opinions noted by policy makers where does that leave us? The simple answer is that it leaves us at the mercy of the wealthy and the powerful, and that does not sound like much of a democracy to me.

There is most definitely a need for reform when it comes to the election process. However, I am extremely doubtful that the change we need is to pump more money into elections, allowing big business to be even more persuasive.

The April 2 ruling will further the disconnect between the average American citizen and the government. The government was designed to represent all citizens rather than the individuals represented by the American government.

If we continue down this path we will no longer be the entire public, but rather the select few that can buy time with policy makers and push for the change they want instead of the change that is best for the population as a whole.

I do not doubt that from a legal standpoint the Supreme Court made the decision they thought was best, however the repercussions this one ruling will have could be quite detrimental for the American democracy.