Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Buying Political Office

Linda McMahon –a former executive of World Wrestling Entertainment– spent approximately $22 million dollars of her personal wealth to secure a victory yesterday in the Texas Republican primary race for U.S. Senate. ABC News reports that this equates to approximately $400 spent per vote. Yet, McMahon is not alone in using her personal money to fund a bid for office; this approach to campaigning seems to be increasing on both sides of the aisle. While experts note that “self-financed candidates have a lower rate of winning elections than traditional candidates,” the increase in extremely wealthy individuals entering political races may begin to impact our democratic system by pushing other candidates to the sidelines or out of the race altogether. The ability for the wealthiest Americans to essentially buy political office is incredibly anti-democratic, and it doesn’t allow for true representation of the body politic. Furthermore, this type of self-funding runs the risk of make our political system even less accessible to women, people of color, middle- and working-class individuals, and other already underrepresented groups. I believe there should be considerable restrictions placed on how much an individual can contribute to her/his own campaign, much like the restrictions placed on individual and corporate donors.

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