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Campaign Finance Issues
GENERAL BACKGROUND INFORMATION
We are not a democracy, yet we do have a voice in our own government. Elections are the choice microphones for many citizens. There on Election Day, they have the right of making their voices heard; however, many interest groups and a few individuals seem to have a louder voice due to campaign financing:
No U.S. official should be beholden to one or a few groups. And no group or individual should have a greater claim on our elected leaders than any other. That’s the way it should work. But it is growing clear to more and more Americans that it doesn’t (McCarthy 24).
Recently, it has been the trend to try to make sure the opinions and concerns of minorities are duly noted and pondered on. The only problem seen with this comes about whenever the minority “buy” the attention of politicians. Typically, minorities are more than a number. The grossly rich, while small in number and percent, have never counted as a minority, but these are the only ones who can afford to give enough support to a candidate to draw attention to them. Again, we see an aristocratic government. Even interest groups of true minorities can’t give enough to impress anyone.
Now that we have seen the dangers of campaign financing, we should go back and find out how it started. Max McCarthy speaks of a time when everything got worse in politics. This was not to imply that everything had been perfect before, but once the media gets involved, things tend to go differently. Many years ago, the media began to play a vital role in the political education of our citizens, with radios and televisions. Before, only those with real authority had any complete knowledge of what went on with governmental politics. As each candidate was brought closer and closer to the American people, they actually started to care about things that before were nicely kept secrets. The opinions of these, now seemingly real people, instead of future historical figures, were actually heard, and the people actually knew who they were voting for. With the start of this new technology, campaigning was much easier; all that was needed was enough money to get the name recognition:
As campaign costs have skyrocketed in recent years, the percentages contributed by the parties and small individual donors have declined . . . An ever-growing segment of political funding now comes from special interest groups and large individual donors . . . Money is the most degrading, corrupting force in American politics today (McCarthy xi).
The idea behind fundraising for elections was a success at first, giving donors another way to voice their opinions and open up the doors for communication once the elected officials fully realized who they owed their position to. However, this went too far. Those whose candidate did not win were left with an official who will accept the ideas of a past donor before any others. This favoritism, while beneficial to certain donors, proves damaging to others. Also, when before, all donated and spoke their mind, now only certain groups and people donate and not even all of them speak their mind. “The individual doesn’t count anymore”(McCarthy 25).
Now that I have given about three pages of background information on the political processes, now would be a good time to introduce my Representative. Ken Bentsen represents the 25TH District of Texas. He is a democrat and has served as representative since 1991. I actually have a few theories regarding the reasons he voted the way he did and why certain groups financially supported his campaign. Scholars for thousands of years have pondered the question of whether it was the chicken or the egg, which came first. In the case of campaigning and finance, such seems to be the question. Because voters had the opportunity of watching his career before 1996, it’s practically impossible to be able to tell if either they saw how he voted before and wanted to support him saw how he voted and wanted to change him, or he voted because of the money. I will not answer this question, but instead point out every possibility, hopeful creating an expository essay.
KEN BENTSEN: BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Bentsen received his Bachelor
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Dan Quayle, Elections in the United States, Voting in the United States, Political campaign, Lloyd Bentsen, Campaign finance in the United States
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