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Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Has anyone actually ”bought an election”, or is that a popular myth?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (26821points) July 14th, 2016

Back in Oct last year when the campaign circus was getting started the New York Times (so you know the info has to be fairly creditable) said that half of all the campaign seed money came from just 150+ wealthy families from areas like LA, San Fran, Palm Beach, the Hamptons, and the River Oaks Country Club, etc. Most of this money went heavily towards the party of Twiddle Dumb (the Republican), and some trickling to the party of Twiddle Dee (the Democrats). With so much going to Twiddle Dumb one would think it was senior white people with ”old money”, but half were self-made millionaires and billionaires who took risks and leveraged their capital to larger and larger gains, they come from Russia, India, Pakistan, Asia, etc. They (according to the Times) favored the party of Twiddle Dumb more because they felt over regulation stifles smaller companies and business to achieving the success they have (seems noble enough), plus they want to see a relaxing of capital gains, inheritance tax, and shrinking of entitlements. If they and the companies they own and business they control pumped tens of hundreds of million dollars into a campaign or behind a candidate and he/she won, would that constitute they ”bought” that election? What if they pumped all that money in and the candidate lost (as has happened many times in the past), could it be said they lost that election? History has never shown, at least where I can see it, that the most money always guaranteed a victory for the candidate with the most backing, either their own money or that of others. So, doesn’t that make ”buying and election” more myth than true?

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10 Answers

gorillapaws's avatar

This article references a study that seems to indicate that most of our elections are bought. At least that’s the most logical inference one would draw based on the fact that:

“In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule—at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes. When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover … even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it.”

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@gorillapaws When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose.
As much as the wealthy few allegedly want to axe entitlements, and greatly ease taxes on businesses and inheritance, they have not seemed to do it. Influencing policy and all out purchasing an election is two different animals to me.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Yes of course billionaires throw all that money at the GOP because it’s the party of noble ideas, the noblest being that the rich are entitled to take it all. OF COURSE elections are bought. Stop to think about it. If people supposedly vote in their own interests, how is it possible that in this society the rich acquire an ever greater percentage of the wealth while the rest of us watch our standard of living plummet? Put another way, the rich have the money, but the non rich certainly outnumber them in potential votes. So if there is a society wherein 95% of the wealth is controlled by 5% of the population, somebody’s vote has been either bought or negated. The one thing left out of our civics classes but ALWAYS recognized by the rich is that there is no such thing as a free enterprise system as long as there is the necessity for government. This being the case, it is imperative that the bulk of those voting are deflected from voting in their own interests, and that those representing us in our representative government are directed toward promoting measures benefitting those at the top. These things are perfectly obvious to anyone paying attention, and I suppose it’s difficult to argue against the idea that those who ACTUALLY own the country shouldn’t own it’s government as well. The clues that this is in fact the way things work are everywhere and omnipresent. Citizens united was in fact a decision about whether or not the government should be for sale, and that gem of declaring corporations to in fact be people demonstrates that even the troublesome judicial branch of the government, the one supposed pesky impediment to the buying of influence, can be managed if the “right” people wear the robes. But there is actually no need to ask this question. The very fact that the great bulk of the actual time devoted by our so-called representatives to raising money, means that elections are LITERALLY bought. After all, if you live in a land where it costs a fortune to be elected, your prospects improve considerably when you hold 95% of the money.

Jaxk's avatar

First the premise of your article is wrong. The Democrats have been out raising Republicans for quite some time now. Democrats are expecting to have 2+ billion for Hillary this election while Trump will likely be less than 1. Corporation often donate to both parties to insure they are not viewed as the enemy regardless who wins. The money can buy advertising and even fund campaign offices but if the message isn’t right, it doesn’t matter. Many will complain that their guy lost because the election was bought but if you look at it realistically, it was simply because their message wasn’t bought by the voters. People don’t vote against their best interest, they vote for what they think will make their lives better. Just because you don’t agree, doesn’t mean the election was fixed.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

^ The money can buy advertising and even fund campaign offices but if the message isn’t right, it doesn’t matter.
There it is there, that would allude to a myth of buying an election. Larry Lunchmeat can have billion dollar friends who pump more money into his campaign than Bubba Gump Shrimp, but if he has good ideas but short of details n how he can do it, it may make no difference against Suzy Homemaker who with a grassroots campaign prevails because she has a clear plan how to fix problems, and she may be more likeable too. If she lost because she was outspent, some will say Larry Lunchmeat and his million dollar posse bought the election, it could not be because he had a clearer message and enough cash to get it much exposure.

Rarebear's avatar

In a sense that advertising dollars go a long way to influencing an election then yes.

SmartAZ's avatar

I didn’t care enough to study the situation carefully, and I can’t find the date right now, but there was a year when TWO Republican candidates ran against one Democrat. The Dems sponsored the Republican specifically to confuse the voters so their man could win, which he did.

Zaku's avatar

Practically every politician who sends me email seems to think so. I get constant alerts from them about it, all framed in a context that makes it seem like it’s a money race, not a voting race.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Rarebear In a sense that advertising dollars go a long way to influencing an election then yes.
So, if they influenced the election without spending hardly anything would they have stolen or hoodwinked the election? It might seem even more than they got their person elected when no one knows their position or hardly had any exposure to them.

stanleybmanly's avatar

These days the “message” seems almost exclusively about the unsuitability of one’s opponent. The swift boat campaign was a REALLY big eye opener regarding money and elections.

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