The $6 Billion Scam
While all the figures aren’t in and almost certainly never will be, the Center for Responsive Politics has estimated that roughly $6 billion was spent on the 2012 election, including $2 billion on the presidential contest and something on the order of $4 billion on congressional and state races. This gives us, I suppose, the best government money can buy — which is certainly not the best we could have.
When I say what was spent, what I really mean is what was raised. While there are typically a few wealthy candidates who largely finance their own campaigns (whoever thought the richest candidate would turn out, in this topsy-turvy world, to be the most independent), most of the money responsible for the awful ads and the endless mailings and the like is raised from people and corporate PACs with every reason to give, as well as corporations who are now free to spend unlimited sums. For those who say disclosure is the best (and only feasible) protection against corruption, it’s worth pointing out the new scam on the block: “GPS” groups pioneered by Karl Rove and now duplicated by the president’s supporters that don’t even have to disclose the multimillion-dollar contributions they receive.
Why, one of my students asked me, do people donate this kind of money to politics? You could bring health care to tens of thousands of children in the world, build schools for impoverished kids, help seniors living on fixed incomes, clean up dumpsites, fund medical research, do any number of things that would make the world a better place as opposed to another negative ad.
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