As much as I hate to steal an idea directly off of the blog prompt I have been curious about campaign finances for years and with the coming election, there is no better time to discuss such a topic. Campaign finances have been on the talking board for many people for countless years and now candidates deem it a positive when their campaign is referred to as “self-funded”. There has been debates about reforms of campaign finances and funding for years and yet none of the politicians seem to have been able to make a decision about it, shockingly enough. We as a people vote for candidates because we believe that they will represent the people as a whole. According to Fred Wertheimer and Susan Weiss Manes of the Columbia Law Review “our campaign finance system is undermining this system of self-government. People engaged in the business of influencing government decisions provide large amounts of money to the elected officials who make those decisions.” This quote almost perfectly sums up my feelings toward campaign finances and taking a look at the issue through the ethics lens makes me question it even more.
Taking into account the three ethical schools of thought about this, campaign financing only makes a little sense if consequentialism is the school of thought used. The consequentialist point of view is focusing on the results of the decision or action. The results of campaign financing can be seen from different angles. The broadest view is that the money received from campaign financing has a direct impact on the results of the election. For a majority of history there has been a direct correlation between campaign finances and winning. I was unable to find a legitimate source for this information but according to opensecrets.org in 2008 “In 93 percent of House of Representatives races and 94 percent of Senate races that had been decided by mid-day Nov. 5, the candidate who spent the most money ended up winning” This means that for the most part, more money equals more winning. Now the argument against this is that people are more likely to put money into the candidate that has the highest chance of winning. It is very hard to refute this argument because there is very little data that says otherwise. Overall consequentialists would argue for campaign financing by saying that whoever has the most money at the end of the race, wins.
The other schools of thought are different and they are the ones that I agree with. Deontological and virtue ethics provide a very basic analysis of ethical situations that apply to campaign finance well. Deontological is a duty based ethical response and I do not believe that it is anybody’s responsibility to provide money to a campaign. Campaign financing is just asking for political corruption and politicians having a business agenda when they are in office. I do not think that more campaign finances are a good thing and in my opinion politicians should be in office for their ideas and not for how much money they can raise. I know this is an extremely touchy subject especially at this point in the election. I believe that when a politician receives money from a big corporation then they “owe” them something when they make it to office. The politician is then put in the decision to decide what is best for the country or what is best for the big businesses. A majority of the time it is not black and white either and that is where the corruption can come into play.