Representatives of the People?

Obtaining high political office today is quite a challenge—a challenge to raise enough money to buy the position, that is. The days of a common person from small-town-America rising through political chairs just on the basis of their honesty and ethical behavior are long gone. Today it takes excessive amounts of one major ingredient to win high political office—MONEY!

Most of us are still reeling from the report that Michael Bloomberg spent over $87 Million on his resent mayoral campaign, which is $157.45 per vote. That got me thinking about the impact of money on political office, and while researching, I ran into some interesting numbers in the latest issue of Newsweek magazine.

Newsweek published the public numbers for campaign costs for Barack Obama, Michael Bloomberg, and 35 Senate campaigns run in 2008. You might find the following interesting:

NAME

POSITION

AMOUNT SPENT

COST PER VOTE

Barack Obama

President

$760,369,688

11.37

Michael Bloomberg

N.Y.C. Mayor

87,710,101

157.45

SENATORS:

Mitch McConnell

R-KY.

21,306,296

22.54

Al Franken

D-MINN

21,066,834

17.37

John Cornyn

R-TEXAS

16,454,518

3.80

Saxby Chambliss

R-GA.

15,692,294

12.85

Mark Udall

D-COLO.

12,987,562

11.14

Mark Warner

D-VA.

12,515,479

5.29

John Kerry

D-MASS.

12,279,425

6.27

Mary Landrieu

D-LA.

10,146,669

10.29

Kay Hagan

D-N.C.

8,953,274

4.02

Jeanne Shaheen

D-N.H.

8,208,542

22.87

Max Baucus

D-MONT.

8,164,703

23.60

Frank Lautenberg

D-N.J.

8,135,752

4.44

Richard Durbin

D-ILL.

8,016,455

2.28

Tom Udall

D-N.M.

7,841,889

15.77

Susan Collins

R-MAINE

7,765,295

17.47

Jeff Merkley

D-ORE.

6,501,315

7.96

Pat Roberts

R-KAN.

6,297,288

8.84

Roger Wicker

R-MISS.

6,160,116

9.49

Carl Levin

D-MICH.

5,784,520

1.91

James Inhofe

R-OKLA.

5,477,730

7.18

Tom Harkin

D-IOWA

5,022,490

5.40

Joe Biden

D-DELA.

4,907,245

19.06

John D. Rockefeller IV

D-W.VA.

4,820,379

10.85

Lamar Alexander

R-TENN

4,571,728

2.91

Tim Johnson

D-S.D.

4,550,590

19.13

Lindsey Graham

R-S.C.

4,463,619

4.21

Mark Begich

D-ALASKA

4,443,284

29.48

Mike Johanns

R-NEB.

3,781,316

8.45

Jim Risch

R-IDAHO

3,573,256

9.66

Mark Pryor

D-ARK.

3,284,632

4.12

Jeff Sessions

R-ALA

3,240,151

2.49

Jack Reed

D-R.I.

2,258,706

7.44

Thad Cochran

R-MISS.

2,063,627

2.85

John Barrasso

R-WYO.

1,981,441

11.11

Michael Enzi

R-WYO.

1,247,841

6.77

____________

TOTAL

$1,112,046,050

(Newsweek© research by Ian Yarett)

And the above total is just for the winners. Can you imagine what the actual amount spent would be if we added in McCain’s, Clinton’s, and all the other opponents of the above politicians? This is also just a sample of 35 offices out of many hundreds, especially if you include high state and big city positions. Obviously, several billions of dollars are spent annually (not only in election years) just to get into political office.

So, where does that money come from? Well, a small amount comes from American citizens. Another dab comes from small businesses, and this usually goes directly to the politician. But, the bulk of the money comes from big business, and winds its way through various political action committees and other means of circumventing campaign contribution laws.

The point here is that these enormous sums of campaign money can only come from wealthy people and big business. These are the same people who hire their minions on K Street to make sure the newly “supported” politicians act accordingly.

Is it any wonder that small business gets short shrift from their representatives? Small business cannot begin to compete with the mountains of money dished out by big business.

Sadly, this is not likely to change until we eliminate the “club” atmosphere in Washington—by instituting term limits, and passing actual campaign finance reform laws. Will that happen? Not likely, because those in the “club” like it the way it is…it will take a near revolution to bring this kind of change to pass.

But, maybe small business owners should keep this in mind the next time they get trampled on by legislation that favors only big business.

4 thoughts on “Representatives of the People?”

  1. Thank you very much for your research, Bob. It’s so appreciated.

    This is just outrageous! What should we do? I think I will write a piece about your findings on the Huffington Post. But we have to really do something collectively has a nation about this. One thing is for sure. We can’t count on those who we have elected to office to press for campaign financing. Perhaps I’ll start a bi-partisan political action committee. I’ll contact a savvy Washington friend for advice.

    How much of President Obama’s campaign money came from corporations and how much came from the donations of average citizens? But with that number it seems highly unlikely that the funds could have come from average citizens. I would like to know the breakdown. I think 100% of Mayor Bloomberg’s campaign money came from his own bank. Does this matter? The former perhaps seems more of an exercise of the people’s will. The other seems like a mayor’s will to power. What are your thoughts?
    .-= Judith Ellis´s last blog ..Being a Joke IV =-.

  2. Judith – Yes, it is outrageous, but it has been going on for a very long time. Sadly, there is very little we can do, because Washington is a club and the rules are set by the members. As George Carlin used to say: “…it’s a big club, and you ain’t in it!”

    The numbers research was actually done by Newsweek, so I think I may try to contact Ian Yarett (the researcher) to see if he has drilled down any deeper, or has any similar data he could share.

    I don’t know how much of the President’s campaign money came from private citizens, but didn’t he turn down the government money that each presidential candidate is given for their campaign? If I remember correctly, McCain took it, but Obama stuck with private money only.(?) So, big business must have made heavy contributions (through various means) to his campaign. I’m sure they also contributed quite well to all the other politicians as well.

    I also do not believe that just because a person is rich, they can run for office. Bloomberg buying his 3rd term in office seems to be a perfect example–he is obviously just in it for the feeling of power.

    Unfortunately, government of the people, by the people and for the people no longer exists.
    .-= Bob Foster´s last blog ..Representatives of the People? =-.

  3. “Unfortunately, government of the people, by the people and for the people no longer exists.”

    This is so very sad. But I still believe that we can reverse this, Bob. Let’s keep the faith and see what we can do collectively!
    .-= Judith Ellis´s last blog ..Being a Joke IV =-.

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