The billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch want to prove that money really does talk, to politicians at least. The Koch brothers told the media recently that they plan on spending $900 million on the next presidential election.
Since the Supreme Court decided that corporations have a right to free speech, more money has been flowing into elections to public office than ever before. Because there will be no incumbent in the race for the White House in 2016, we can expect a more competitive election and unprecedented spending.
According to the “New York Times,” President Obama received $250 million of his campaign’s $1 billion from donors who contributed $200 or less in 2012. If these numbers are correct, we can estimate that the Koch brothers alone will outspend Democratic small donors almost four to one in 2016, if participation is similar.
If I donated the maximum amount to qualify as a small donor ($200), there would have to be 4,500,000 other people donating the same amount to match the Koch brothers’ contribution. That figure should startle everyone. I don’t care which side of the aisle you’re on, there is something seriously wrong with this picture. How can the average American expect to have an equal voice when they are being drowned out by large donors?
It is no wonder that we have such dismal turnouts on election day. Only 60 percent of registered voters vote in presidential elections. Midterm elections are even worse, with only 40 percent of eligible people voting. The people feel powerless to affect change in government, and it shows when our congressmen are elected by less than half of their constituents. The answer to this problem is simple in theory and complicated in practice.
The Supreme Court has declared most campaign finance limitations unconstitutional, so limiting big spending via normal legislation isn’t going to happen. The only real resource the people have is to pressure their representatives to pass a constitutional amendment that makes it illegal to donate anything over a reasonable amount.
I know this sounds like an impossible feat, but Congress has amended the constitution before because of popular demand, and they can do it again. The people need to stand up and reclaim their voice in government; it isn’t impossible.