The Best Government Money Can Buy

Before even researching for my final paper on campaign finance reform, I knew that there were some serious issues about how money played a role in our political process. As it turns out, the harder question is asking what part of out political process does money not play a role in?

The Legislative branch of our Federal government is controlled by Congress which is broken down into the Senate and the House of Representatives. The elected officials that make up these two parts of Congress are supposed to represent the people of their state or district, respectively. The issue is that although we all say that our government is built so that anyone can take part in politics it’s not always true. Yes, technically anyone can run, but that’s about all everyone can do. The fact of the matter is: the Hill is an exclusive club, and the top politicians make an even more exclusive club.

As of right now, John Boehner is the Speaker of the House and is representing Ohio‘s 8th district. The average income as of 2009 of this district is $43,753. Rep. John Boehner raised a little over $9.7 million for the 2009 election and is net worth was estimated to be anywhere from $1.8 million – $5.3 million. Seems to be that money is a big factor in this equation. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, 56% of his 2009 campaign was financed by either PAC contributions or large individual contributions while 0% of his campaign was financed by himself. Seems like it is even better to know people with money then to use your own. I highly doubt the average person has these types of connections to bankroll a $9.7 million campaign and I know for a fact most of Americans can’t bankroll that themselves. With costs like this, who can afford to represent their fellow citizens?

This blog is not to pick on Representitive Boehner. I only picked him because as the most powerful person in the House of Representitives and second in line to the Presidency behind the Vice-President, he is one of the major leaders of our Nation. He is by no means the exception to the rule. As of 2009, The average net worth of a member of the Senate was $13.4 million. Unfortunately, it seems that members of the House of Representatives didn’t fair as well as their neighbors on The Hill as they only averaged a mere $4.9 million dollars. It is clear that our government is run, more or less, by the 1%. The way toward a life of politics is through money because at the end of the day, running for office is an expensive proposition that takes friends and allies with money.


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10 Responses to The Best Government Money Can Buy

  1. RickE says:

    I also think that the recent Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case is incredibly important when talking about campaign finance reform. I think it was a huge step backwards because it now allows money to more control the outcome of political races. This is a classic injustice that Michael Walzer writes about in “Spheres of Justice”.

    • Jordi says:

      I agree with your analysis, Rick. In fact, the Supreme Court analysis is fairly Nozick-ian. They basically say that however much one has to spend on a candidate is just, and any spending for media buys is just- no one forbids some groups to buy or support a candidate- hence the outcome must be just. However, how to change the system in a just way is also tricky. I have seen the inside of campaign financing and when it is very complex in the name of keeping elections clean, it also is a barrier to entry.

  2. Jordi says:

    Is that net worth of them as individuals, or their average campaign expenditures?

  3. ChrisB says:

    You’re killing me with these comments, Jordi. Looks like my hopes of gold are gone…

    The net worth is as individuals not their average campaign expenditures.

  4. Hey Chis, don’t kill me….do you really think an “average joe” has what it takes to effectively represent the public in office? I’ve often thought about this, because someone who is an average citizen knows what needs to be changed, but is it really plausible?

    • Jordi says:

      Maybe abolish juries while we are at it. And turn over Senate election to state legislatures too. Oh, and while we are at it, make sure you own land before you can vote. 3>:)

  5. Pingback: The Median Net Worth Of A Member Of Congress Is Five Times Higher Than The Median American Household « The Fifth Column

  6. Pingback: Best of Blog Week 8 | Biz Gov Soc

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