[FoRK] Money and Campaigns Re: My sentiments exactly...

John Parsons bullwinklemouth at yahoo.ca
Fri Jan 22 21:39:29 PST 2010

Hello everyone, I am new to posting here, but I've been following the discourse for a while now, and feel some trepidation at attempting, never mind achieving, your standards of rhetoric... If I may respectfully submit the following:

Further to Dr Prabhakar's and Ken's points is that we don't have direct democracy, we have representative democracy, in that the voter does not have any say (and usually no knowledge) of their representative's voting choices or legislative impact on many of the mundane, day-to-day appropriations and motions. Realistically, no voter really expects a representative to do *everything* they say (especially when so many of them are "mute" to the representative).

 What this corporate money buys is access (that the majority of voters cannot compete with) to the successful candidate, their contacts, legislative aids, staff, etc... in short, the people who craft the legislation. Sure, special interests may have some impact, but the average voter is usually nowhere to be seen

As for the more noticeable legislation, call me a cynic, but I find that
issues can be couched so many ways, it is hard to tell what some people
actually stand for (e.g. "I'm for health care, just not *this* health
care") and besides, their positions are largely dictated by party line/platform.

To sum, corporate and special-interest money is *invested* in politicians. The resulting influence is in turn used to craft the transfer of public money back to the special interests/corporations, usually without anyone's attention. If the candidate fails on the investment, they are not re-invested in, and there are very few successful independent representatives. [1] 

Regardless of the outcome of any election (i.e. independent of the voters), I don't see that changing. Did I mention that I'm a cynic? :-D

[1] Free Lunch, by David Cay Johnston

John Parsons

--- On Sat, 1/23/10, Ken Ganshirt @ Yahoo <ken_ganshirt at yahoo.ca> wrote:

--- On Fri, 1/22/10, Dr. Ernie Prabhakar <drernie at radicalcentrism.org> wrote:
> http://www.mfw.us/freakonomics-money-elections
> > Here’s the surprise: the amount of money spent by
> the candidates hardly matters at all. A winning candidate
> can cut his spending in half and lose only 1 percent of the
> vote. Meanwhile, a losing candidate who doubles his spending
> can expect to shift the vote in his favor by only that same
> 1 percent. What really matters for a political candidate is
> not how much you spend; what matters is who you are.

Misses the much more important point:

"Chances are you’ll give the money in one of two situations: a close race, in which you think the money will influence the outcome; or a campaign in which one candidate is a sure winner and you would like to bask in reflected glory or receive some future in-kind consideration. The one candidate you won’t contribute to is a sure loser."

The corporate financial influence is directed at one of two situations. One is to help buy votes if that seems possible. That is aimed directly at overcoming the one person:one vote condition. 

But it's the second item that's more fundamentally scarey. It's to increase the leverage considerably. Having bought the winner - whether the winner spent all the money on the campaign or not - you've just bought 100% of the votes in that constituency, including all those against the winner.

I suppose there are a few politicians in any election who honestly don't feel any obligation to those who supported their campaign heavily. But there aren't many. And they won't last long.


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