Friday 9 December 2016

Money talks - and in US presidential race, billions of dollars shout loudest

Published 26/05/2015 | 02:30

Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, march in a Memorial Day Parade in their hometown of Chappaqua, New York, where almost a thousand onlookers crowded the parade route. Photo: The Journal News via AP
Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, march in a Memorial Day Parade in their hometown of Chappaqua, New York, where almost a thousand onlookers crowded the parade route. Photo: The Journal News via AP

Political campaigns are expensive everywhere. However, in America increasingly, we are seeing enormously large amounts of money being spent on electioneering, even before candidates are selected. Money equals voice, voice leads to votes, and votes mean power. There once was a time when democracy was driven by people and not dollars, but that day has long passed.

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The 2016 American presidential campaign is set to reach dizzying new heights in terms of campaign spending, with reports that Hillary Clinton intends to raise a staggering $2.5bn (€2.27bn) to run her upcoming selection and election campaign. This represents a 100 percent increase on the cost of Barack Obama's campaign in 2012. Concern that ideologies are being replaced by donations are well founded. The idea that political policies are developed and determined by corporate interests is no longer a bogeyman tale. In the USA it is the reality. For candidates, the race is no longer about garnering support, it is about gathering green-backs. Every American election brings with it new ways for the super-rich to donate. With more restrictions being removed with each plebiscite, America is now virtually in a situation where there are simply no limits on how much money any individual can give to a candidate.

What has led to this free-for-all? More importantly, where is it leading America, if those with the most money can literally pay for a ticket to the White House?

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