If you’ve ever been told your vote doesn’t count, but didn’t quite believe that to be true — maybe you were raised to believe in the power of democracy, or perhaps you feel your vote might prevent that other guy from grabbing the highest seat of power in the land — the Federal Election Commissionfilings released on Sunday should prove the obstacles of cash your vote faces at the polls.
Much ado has been made about campaign contributions, particularly since the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Citizens United v. FEC in January 2010. That ruling essentially deemed corporations ‘people’ whose spending — whether to support or denounce individual candidates — amounts to political speech. As a result, the court decided, their speech is protected by the First Amendment. Many wondered what would happen to the already convoluted power of an individual’s vote in the face of mountains of virtually endless campaign advertising and strategy spending — and exactly how much money would the ‘new people’ and their billionaire backers spend.
The numbers speak for themselves.
Hillary Clinton’s Super PAC, Priorities USA, received a mind-boggling $6 million from billionaire George Soros last quarter. “Pro-Israel billionaire power couple Haim and Cheryl Saban,” as The Interceptdescribed them, forked over $3 million to Hillary’s PAC. ‘Jeb!’ Bush’s Right to Rise Super PAC managed an astonishing $10 million gift, courtesy of former AIG head Hank Greenberg through the auspices of his company, C.V. Starr.
Not to be outdone, the Koch brothers announced their absurdly lofty spending goal for the 2016 elections just over a year ago: $900 million. Considering the Republican National Committee spent $657 million in the 2012 election cycle — including its spending on the presidential campaign and two congressional election committees — the Kochs’ spending, alone, should be proof of wealth’s inflated importance when it comes to the so-called vote.
At this point in the evolution of elections, it would appear the races have devolved into little more than pissing contests between billionaires to see who will dole out the next most alarming sum of campaign cash.
But there are certainly more rewarding ways to throw money around — which don’t involve proxy puppeteering and tasteless advertising.
In 2014, 46.7 million people in the United States were living at or below what is considered the poverty level, though more accurate measurements put that number closer to 48.4 million. This included at least 15.5 million children, or 21.1 percent of all kids in the country. Using the so-called “thrifty plan”guidelines set by the USDA, which would feed the hungriest children the minimum amount of life-sustaining, nutritious food, around 4,500,000 children could be fed for a month, or 375,000 children could be fed for an entire year — using only the money spent by the Koch brothers this election cycle.
Now that elections have become so thoroughly infused with ridiculous sums, the true benefits that money could bestow upon more deserving programs and avenues are at least worthy of consideration.