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Truth is Powerful

Campaign Finance Reform by Itself Won’t End Elite Control of Politics


Restricting the power of money to influence politics may be urgent and necessary, but it does little to alter the ideological preferences of those who traditionally staff the halls of power.

In both his runs for the presidency, Bernie Sanders issued frequent battle cries for campaign finance reform. Absolutely nothing about this strategy was uncalled for and, if anything, Sanders’s loud and unapologetic attack on the power of organized money in American politics was long overdue from a major presidential candidate.

As virtually everyone without a Beltway area code seems to understand, the corrupting influence of wealth — from rich donors, from corporations, from Super PACs — corrodes American democracy and skews public policy toward the interests of the 1 percent.

By any standard, in fact, the sheer amount of money in American elections is often difficult to comprehend: one estimate from the Center for Responsive Politics pegged the total cost of the 2020 cycle at some $14 billion. In 2018, less than one half of 1 percent of Americans contributed more than $200 — meaning that America’s disproportionately white, wealthy, and right-leaning donor class contributed well over half of all funding. Permissive, opaque, and tailor-made for the […]

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