Mark Hanna, a 19th century Republican politician from Ohio once stated: ‘There are two things that matter in politics. The first is money, and I don’t remember what the second one is.’ He was ahead of his times. As a practitioner of politics, he well understood the power that money exerts in the political process. His adage was as true then, as it is now. It may well be truer now.
The Daily Caller notes that President Obama is the first politician in American history to bring in over a billion dollars. Nobody else in US politics has ever raised that amount of money. And, he’s likely to build even further on that colossal take throughout the coming months.
In another twist in this era of nearly totally unregulated campaign finance, Harold Hamm, the chairman of the Romney campaign’s energy advisory committee, Harold Hamm, an oil billionaire from Oklahoma, made a donation of $985,000 to the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future. The donation was perfectly ‘legal,’ though I would hardly call it ethical. The super PACs are prohibited by law from coordinating with the campaigns that they support. Having such a prominent donor official on the campaign roster is also ‘legal,’ though this sort of maneuvering is going to be politically problematic, as the optics of the situation, well, just look bad.
We live in a country where we’ve largely accepted that large amounts of money are going to be a part of the political process. For better or worse (probably for the worse) we’ve set up a situation wherein power will inevitably flow to the highest bidder. While Americans have always put competition in a special, almost sacred place, this is an area where unfettered competition will not enhance the quality of the body politic in our country. There is something sacred about our political system. It should, quite simply, not be for sale. The problem with our current campaign finance laws is that this is precisely what has happened.
This shouldn’t be a Democratic issue, or a Republican issue. This is an American issue, as the results have repeatedly demonstrated. Like it or not, we are moving away from a system wherein money, not the actual voting process, is replacing what determines the outcomes of elections. For all the competition that we’re having, the end result is highly antithetical to what this country represents.