Despite still being a year away, the 2016 presidential race is already promising to be the most expensive election cycle in history. Hillary Clinton aims to raise $2.5 billion for her bid to become president, according to New York Times.
Critics wonder if Jeb Bush is honoring election rules in good faith after he postponed the start of his official campaign to raise money for his presidential super PAC (once official, a candidate can no longer directly help their super PAC with fundraising.)
Many other candidates are collecting seven-figure (and sometimes eight-figure) contributions from wealthy donors, leaving democracy eroded according to former President Jimmy Carter.
Speaking to The Thom Hartmann Program, Carter explained that the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court case opened the floodgates to bribery.
“It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it’s just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or to elect the president.”
Jimmy Carter added that the problem also “applies to governors and U.S. senators and congress members.”
“So now we’ve just seen a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect and sometimes get favors for themselves after the election’s over.”
Doling out favors isn’t the only issue with the current system according to Jimmy Carter, it also gives incumbents an unfair advantage over fresh politicians, since an incumbent has more to offer than a rising congressional star.
Incumbency rates have gone up, even while Congress’ approval rating has sunk, supporting Carter’s assertion. In 2010, when the Supreme Court made its decision, about 85 percent of Congressional members kept their jobs. According to Politico, in 2012 the rate was about 90. In 2014, it was an amazing 96.4.
Meanwhile, Congress’s approval rating was 19 percent in 2010, roughly 17 in 2012, and 15 in 2014, according to Gallup.
How will the trend stop?
Thom Hartmann suggested that the court decision will require a movement to overturn it. If the Supreme Court doesn’t reverse its own decision, two-thirds of both houses of Congress would have to vote for a constitutional amendment, like the one proposed here. That seems unlikely with the legislature having a difficult time with even routine bills.
Jimmy Carter, on the other hand, suggests that it will take a “horrible, disgraceful series of events” to mobilize the public; what that might entail is unclear.
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