A prevailing theory has emerged regarding the 2012 election that merits some examination. The theory runs along the lines of, Republicans lost in 2012 despite spending more, therefore election spending isn’t the biggest issue for voters to consider. Therefore the record-setting $6 billion spent last cycle really isn’t an alarming figure.
Yet, this theory misses the core issue. The major lesson voters should have taken away from the last election was to realize how immobile the political process has become. No one group or individual can “buy” an election.
The ‘big’ interests spending hand over fist to win a Democratic or Republican majority in Congress, or put Romney or Obama back in the White House have benefited and will continue to benefit from the status quo, which has become an especially profitable state of affairs for them.
What has changed after the 2012 election? Pretty much nothing. Republicans kept a majority in the House, Democrats held the Senate and Obama remained in office. Likewise, since November, nothing substantive has happened in Washington. No prosecution of Wall Street bankers suspected of fraud, no improved oversight of the healthcare industry, no significant reduction in military spending.
Both institutions of power have managed to create a well-oiled, highly efficient, and logically consistent ‘do-nothing machine.’ Allowing legislation to decompose, the political culture remains in stasis; frozen in place by excessive filibustering and disingenuous debate.
What really lies at the heart of who’s ‘buying’ elections is evidenced by how lawmakers spend the majority of their time. The average amount of time an incumbent spends fundraising while in office has only increased as partisanship has worsened. Four hours a day, is what Democrats were advised by party leadership to dedicate to lining their campaign coffers. Nearly half the work day is dedicated to raising money for the next election as opposed to voting/debating legislation and meeting with constituents.
Money will always have a voice in politics, however the focus should remain on which voices are listened to the most.