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United States The Almighty Buck Politics

2016 Election Cycle Led By Billionaire Donors 370

Nicola Hahn writes: The pluralist stance of American politics contends that true power in the United States has been constitutionally vested in "the people" through mechanisms like the electoral process, freedom of speech, and the ability to establish political parties. The traditional view is that these aspects of our political system result in a broad distribution of power that prevents any one faction from gaining an inordinate amount of influence. And today the New York Times has revealed the shortcomings of this narrative by publishing the names of the 158 wealthy families that have donated almost half of the money spent towards the 2016 presidential race. This group of donors is primarily Republican and is dominated by interests in the banking industry. These facts lend credence to the idea that national policy making is influenced heavily by a relatively small group of people. That the American body politic is largely controlled by a deep state.
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2016 Election Cycle Led By Billionaire Donors

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  • by SofiKadaj ( 4025561 ) on Sunday October 11, 2015 @01:50PM (#50704559)
    Today, the New York Times published a damning report on the portion of water that is wet, showing that 100% of water molecules are, in fact, quite wet. The report even tested salt water and brine water, which were also wet. This report may shed light on the traditional view that water is dry.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Except that, cases like Citizens United relied on the idea that donation is like speech. It's one thing to have a general feeling that American Politicians are corrupt. It's another, completely, to have hard evidence about specific numbers of families. Lots of the scientific process is about questioning basic assumptions and when they turn out to be true, that's science too. In this particular case, last time we had a debate about the USA becoming an oligarchy there were comments warning people that the [slashdot.org]

    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

      If you're dumb enough to vote for someone on the take, you'll get someone on the take. Rich donors don't wield any political power at all unless the people choose to hand it to them.

    • by anyaristow ( 1448609 ) on Sunday October 11, 2015 @07:45PM (#50706047)

      The real news is that the mainstream media (NYT) is reporting on it. Also, that money is influential is obvious, but the degree to which it is influential is finally being measured. With numbers backing up observation, and MSM exposure, something may have to be done about it.

      Online tech forums are fond of saying the MSM is a puppet of government. Here we have an instance where it isn't.

      That's news for nerds.

  • Umm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ArmoredDragon ( 3450605 ) on Sunday October 11, 2015 @01:52PM (#50704571)

    Unless they're directly buying votes, then that remains true. I'm not sure why we're equating advertising dollars with votes, because they aren't the same thing.

    Take for example the Colorado state senate recall election a few years back: 11 times the amount of money was spent lobbying in favor of the incumbents as there was for the newcomers, yet the incumbents lost anyways.

    Larry Lessig found this out the hard way, he assumed (very stupidly I might add) that he could just buy votes for his mayday campaign. Instead he found out that every candidate he spent money on that won was already likely to win anyways, and the rest lost.

    • Re:Umm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mendy ( 468439 ) on Sunday October 11, 2015 @02:21PM (#50704731)

      Unless they're directly buying votes, then that remains true. I'm not sure why we're equating advertising dollars with votes, because they aren't the same thing.

      The point I think is that once elected representatives are more likely to legislate in favour of their donors than their constituents.

      • Even this is murky.

        You've had a few candidates that made it a point to limit the amount of campaign contributions they got. Granted, none of them won those elections (but Jerry Brown did manage to snag the govenerorship), but the point still stands. Even the influence of lobbying groups can be political suicide if the constituents really dislike the proposal.

        Nope, the biggest problem we have is still the vast majority of people don't vote, which means a minority interest is controlling nearly every time. Th

      • The point I think is that once elected representatives are more likely to legislate in favour of their donors than their constituents.

        Of course, in reality, people just give money to politicians whose policies they happen to agree with. When those politicians win, it's no big surprise that they legislate in a way that their donors wanted them to.

    • Re:Umm (Score:5, Informative)

      by taiwanjohn ( 103839 ) on Sunday October 11, 2015 @02:29PM (#50704779)

      Apparently that's the exception to the rule, because... [opensecrets.org]

      In 93 percent of House of Representatives races and 94 percent of Senate races that had been decided by mid-day Nov. 5, the candidate who spent the most money ended up winning

      And that was in 2008. It's only gotten worse since Citizens United (2010). If you think our governance is not hopelessly corrupted by money in politics, then I've got a bridge you might be interested in.

      • If you think our governance is not hopelessly corrupted by money in politics, then I've got a bridge you might be interested in.

        Oh, politics is corrupted by money. But that's still better than being corrupted by behind the scenes dealings, government propaganda, and party machines, which is what you get when you limit campaign contributions by law.

      • by khallow ( 566160 )

        In 93 percent of House of Representatives races and 94 percent of Senate races that had been decided by mid-day Nov. 5, the candidate who spent the most money ended up winning

        And an apolitical business person is going to donate to a losing campaign why? This does indicate significant corruption, but of the money buying winning politicians rather than money buying votes. Also, I wonder how people can mesh this belief with the notorious short-term thinking common to business. A CEO can't be bothered to think past the next few quarters, but can be bothered to spend years creating and maintaining a political puppet? Yeah right.

      • I think it's just more likely that the more popular candidates are more likely to receive campaign funding.

        Think about it for a second: If you're an unknown, then who is going to fund your campaign? You can promise the world, but if nobody knows who the fuck you are, you aren't going to raise shit.

        Now the Colorado elections obviously would be exceptions because most of the funding that the incumbents received was from out of state. The candidates weren't popular so much as their message (more gun control) w

      • The US political system is hopelessly corrupt, and has been for a long time. I read posts online all the time, like the ones above trying to point to some outlier or other that somehow proves that the US is a democracy. The truth is that you are governed by a wealthy elite who run the joint for their own benefit. The whole Republican/Democrat divide is just a smokescreen, they are interchangeable. I wonder if change will only come at the barrel of a gun.
    • Unless they're directly buying votes, then that remains true. I'm not sure why we're equating advertising dollars with votes, because they aren't the same thing.

      Take for example the Colorado state senate recall election a few years back: 11 times the amount of money was spent lobbying in favor of the incumbents as there was for the newcomers, yet the incumbents lost anyways.

      Larry Lessig found this out the hard way, he assumed (very stupidly I might add) that he could just buy votes for his mayday campaign. Instead he found out that every candidate he spent money on that won was already likely to win anyways, and the rest lost.

      The "vote buying" isn't that outlandish. There was a lot of talk 4 years ago about the "Sheldon Andelson primary" and how the Republican candidates became a lot more hawkish on Israel when in came up. He single-handedly kept Gingrich in the race for a while and probably swayed the Republican agenda as a result. But you don't even need vote buying, if you give a bunch of money to the candidate who sincerely agrees with you you'll end up with a legislator voting your way.

      This is why I think the US needs a mor

      • This kind of thing is why, in Mongolia, you can't buy alcohol on election day; anyone walking around with a bottle of vodka probably sold their vote!

    • One dollar, one vote.

      The dollar of a billionaire is equal to the dollar of the homeless person!

      That's the way the 'democracies' of the USA (and UK, increasingly) operate.

      Some might say it was a coup by the oligarchy. Some might say our supposed democratic representatives are traitors to the people.

      I would find it hard to disagree.

  • According to the FEC [fec.gov], contributions to Democrats so far total US$64.2 million, while contributions to Republicans total US$61.2 million. Hillary Clinton has received US$47.1 million, more than the top three Republican candidates combined. (Not surprising, given the fragmentation of the Republican field).

    The summary's breathless implication that "rich Republican bankers are buying the Presidency" doesn't appear to reflect the facts.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 11, 2015 @02:10PM (#50704665)

      You're looking at money received directly by campaigns, which are subject to fairly strict limits ($2,600 from an individual to any one candidate, for example). The NY Times article is about political donations given by individuals and families, which can go to PACs; many of these donations are unlimited, by ruling of the Supreme Court:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campaign_finance_in_the_United_States

    • In that case (at least according to Russell Brand!) that means any Democrat will beat any Republican. We're not going to be running all the little candidates against each other, it amounts to one lump sum against another lump sum and the Democrats win.

      Technically, that means it's time to get Bernie in there (he's pretty well matching Hillary, particularly with actual voter donations) because according to the piles of money, whoever's in the Dem chair will win. Demographics tell a similar story. There's no s

    • According to the FEC, contributions to Democrats so far total US$64.2 million, while contributions to Republicans total US$61.2 million.

      Following Citizens United, the amount that is contributed to candidates isn't the end of the matter. Super PACs can spend unlimited amounts of money with its source remaining dark during the election cycle. The Super PAC's are apparently able to remain independent of the candidates while they share offices with them.

    • by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Sunday October 11, 2015 @02:25PM (#50704763)

      https://www.opensecrets.org/pr... [opensecrets.org]

      bernie sanders largest contribution out of ~15 million is 15,000 from google.

    • Re:Numbers, please? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Sunday October 11, 2015 @02:59PM (#50704907) Journal

      Hillary is the best republican a republican banker can buy at this point.

  • by GerryGilmore ( 663905 ) on Sunday October 11, 2015 @02:06PM (#50704637)
    Once you get past the Pavlovian reaction to "socialist", you'll find that he is the only candidate NOT dropping to his knees in front of the latest batch of plutocrats. If nor no other reason, a victory for him would be a victory for democracy remaining in the hands of the people.
    • by fnj ( 64210 )

      A thinking man. Regardless of where you are on the political spectrum, you have to respect that Sanders is not in the corporatists' pocket, and cares about the people. I would be viewed as holding to a number of relatively conservative and libertarian views, but this man has my respect.

      • by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Sunday October 11, 2015 @03:24PM (#50705057)

        I would be viewed as holding to a number of relatively conservative and libertarian views, but this man has my respect.

        Same here for the most part, and that's why I'm going to vote for him. He's been consistent on his views for the last 30 years and that is something you just don't see among 99.999999999% of politicians.

        He voted against the war and against the PATRIOT act, and that counts for something in my book. Those were two incredibly unpopular positions to take, but now he's been vindicated for having the courage not to go along with the masses. .

    • Bingo. He's the real deal.

      I don't agree with everything he says but I agree with a hell of a lot of it, more so than any other candidate by far. I'm voting for him.

    • No, I don't support him not *specifically* because he's a declared socialist (although that's comparable intellectually to a creationist in my book) but because of his stated policies on pretty nearly every issue.

  • Well, with so much regulation, taxation, and rent seeking, "when the means of production are bought and sold, the first thing bought and sold is the legislature."

    Translation: If the goverment didn't have such intrusive powers to begin with, especially into the economy, there wouldn't be such fights to wield its power.

    inb4 someone yelpz about corporations being citizens with speech rights, needing yet another belabored explanation of the actual Supreme Court ruling.

  • About half will vote Democrat because they're Democrats. About half will vote Republican because they're Republicans. If the Democrats or Republicans feel disheartened about their candidate, they'll just stay home, and 20% or less of voters will actually turn out to vote. The politicians and point-one-percenters are treating Americans like little bitches because they are little bitches. This situation will continue until that stops being the case.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Sunday October 11, 2015 @03:39PM (#50705115) Journal
    The real danger to the democracy is the apathy of the people. In 90% of the house districts the low turn out primary is the real election. The districts are so blue/red that even a lamp post running as the Democrat/Republican will win the general election. The turn out in general election is a very underwhelming 50% of eligible voters and it drops to stunning 15 to 20% for the primaries. And you need 50%+1 in the primaries.

    So people elected by 15% of the eligible population ends up as the Representative. No wonder they don't listen to you. You did not elect them. 85% of America did not elect them. You find it in the polls. 85% of America has negative opinion of their Reps.

    If mere 15% more people arm themselves with facts, start showing up in the polling booth, register as independents to vote for the best candidate from either party, the influence of money on the politics will wane. Don't blame the rich people for being jerks. Blame the non-so-rich people for being lazy and ignorant.

  • Money gets people elected because most people are suckers for a convincing television ad. Now if someone doesn't accept bribes(campaign contributions), they can't get elected because they don't have enough money for advertisements. The way the system works is that honest people who won't accept bribes don't have a chance.

    Be that as it may, you can still meet lots of cool friends and get a good education in the USA. We've had a corrupted system by money since at least the late 1800s judging by poli
  • In one form of dictatorship, the dictators select the candidates who will stand for election. This is the system in Iran. The people dutifully vote for one or the other candidate.

    Here, if one can control who can reach the general election, you stand a decent chance of profiting from whoever wins the election.

    Lessig talked about this in his notable TED talk which discussed the very issue of a very few, very wealthy people controlling the primary system, leading to election of the candidates they favor. [ted.com]

    The p

  • Does the New York Times analysis include the fact that a lot of their coverage is basically an "in kind" contribution to the guys they favor? This is the problem with Lawrence Lessig. Him and the rest of the anti-Citizens United crew are thinking that without political advertising, the only things the people will hear is what the professional media tells them. And they're betting that the media will continue to act on behalf of the candidates Lessig and the rest support. This story, which takes the activist
  • What do people think of the idea of candidates being limited to a hard dollar amount they can spend on their campaign, regardless of the source of the money? 'Buying' an election is ludicrous at best, criminal at worst, if you ask me.
  • I real United Nations as - planet wide for all of us. On this little rock, by the little star. Just a speck in the galaxy. Time to evolve or else.

Sometimes, too long is too long. - Joe Crowe

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