Special interests in politics

So you may not have been following the news during the 2012 campaign season, or for the last decade. If that is the case, there is something important you should understand about politics: It’s all about money. I have asked a lot of people, and no one has given me a very good explanation of why money matters so much (most people mention television ads, but do people really watch commercials anymore?), but it is nevertheless an empirical fact that money wins elections

Here are some numbers on the big donors from 2012. Note the preponderance of donating organizations that give to one party and not the other. Are these entities convinced of the relative righteousness of the donkey or the elephant? Are they following their collective hearts? No – they are making investments in hopes of getting their way when the candidates they supported become elected officials.

I mostly included this infographic so you could get a kick out of the creepy computer graphics candidates.

This finding should be at the same time very obvious and also deeply unsettling for American voters. In summary, rich people and powerful organizations give money to the political party they think will best serve their interests when in power. This money is used on a propaganda machine to spin, twist, slant, angle, demonize and vilify until the correct number of swing voters from the right demographic are convinced that they should mark one box on a ballot card. Then, after inauguration, the favor is returned as the elected official repays the groups and individuals that got him elected.

This is true for both parties and validated over decades. After all, the same unions and corporations keep giving to the same Democrats and Republicans, respectively. Would you continue to hand over millions election after election if it didn’t get you what you wanted?

So we have a special interest problem. This is maddening for many of us, but there has been nothing we can do about it.


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