By Charlie Vargas
America has fallen under the disillusion that corporations have the same rights as citizens. Sure, they do not sleep, eat, drink or act in any way like human beings, but the idea has grounded stability.
The culprit stems from the Citizens United decision in 2010, which allows large corporations and labor unions to be able to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns.
This monetary influence is playing its role in the presidential election today.
In the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton is supported by media corporations like CNN who is owned by Time Warner Cable, one of Clinton’s top ten campaign donors. This makes her influence in the media more prevalent than her challengers like Sen. Bernie Sanders who only collects contributions from individuals.
Sanders is at a disadvantage, but hopes to highlight the issues of big money in politics by refusing to take donations from any Super PACs. If Sanders can’t win a campaign without their support despite the magnitude of the people’s support, then it will show how dependent the political system really is on money.
It should come as no surprise that excessive money in politics was also central in the previous 2012 congressional election results. Represent.us conducted a study that analyzed the Federal Elections Committee (FEC) during this time and found that candidates who spent an average of 23 million, excluding spending from Political Action Committees (PACs) or the candidate’s behalf, on their campaigns had a 91 percent chance of being elected.
The FEC oversees the limits that individual donors can give to recipients, but because of the Citizens United decision those limits are obsolete to corporations. There is no limit in campaign spending for corporations or labor unions as long as the money is used as an independent expenditure. This is a way for Super PACs to support candidates once their donation caps are met. As long as the Super PACs are not affiliated directly with the candidate or their committee, they are free to spend what they want.
Ultimately, this has allowed corporations and labor unions to have an unlimited support system of which candidate is more favorable to them, yet there is a cap on donations that American citizens can contribute. If corporations are people then they should have the same voice not one amplified by money. Like we saw in the 2012 congressional election candidates with 23 million dollars had better financing, and better financing means better electability.
In the Republican Party, voters have sided with Trump and according to AP, he currently has 26 wins out of the 39 Republican primaries. Trump has gained support from his controversial rhetoric over media companies and without immense monetary support. Unlike his opponent Sen. Ted Cruz who, according to the FEC, has raised about 66.2 million dollars, almost more than half of Trump’s 34.2 million.
Yet, the Republican Party proposed a contested convention as the best solution. Contested conventions occur when a candidate cannot secure enough voters to get their party’s nomination. This would mean that delegates could have the possibility to revote, leaving the nomination up to the party.
Whether you are a supporter of Trump or not, a contested convention goes against what the people who elect officials in the first place desire. It is not the voice of the people, but instead vocal of an establishment who prioritizes themselves over the people they serve.
The people’s choice for political representatives should reflect the citizens of America and not be dependent on the amount of money poured into a politician’s campaign. After all, we proudly brand the U.S. as a democracy, but there is no democracy without the people.