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.