The 2012 elections are projected to be the most expensive on record. Already in 2008 we saw the first billion-dollar presidential race, with Obama’s campaign spending about $730 million while John McCain spent around $330 million. Together, Obama and Romney have already raised over $300 million and are predicted to surpass the billion-dollar mark by November, probably by a wide margin.
With the 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, there will be even more massive cash flows from the general treasuries of corporations spent on ads to advocate the election or defeat of candidates. Already, independent expenditures from outside groups that are not political parties are fast approaching $150 million, more than double the amount in the 2010 election.
In the 2008 election, Barack Obama raised $42.8 million from the finance/insurance/real estate industries, with $16 million of that coming from the securities and investment industry, more commonly called Wall Street (Politifact.com, 5/24/12).
This time around, Obama has already raised about $8.4 million from the finance, insurance, and real estate industries, including about $3 million from securities and investment (Center for Responsive Politics). He has also raised over $2.5 million from the internet and technology sector, with Microsoft, Google, Comcast, and Time Warner being among his top donors. Also among his top contributors are a number of law firms that represent large corporations.
No doubt these campaign contributions and independent expenditures will be rewarded if Obama maintains his presidency. For decades now, we have seen massive influxes of corporate cash flooding our elections. Candidates are up for sale, with the highest bidders buying them off and delivering them to the White House and Congress. It is becoming increasingly obvious that democracy under capitalism is only democracy for the privileged elite and is not run in the interests of working people and the oppressed.
Barack Obama and the Democrats successfully used the 2008 election to cast themselves as the candidate and party for working people. The experience of the Democrats in power, however, has once again torn away the veil to reveal their corporate character: from the massive, no-strings-attached bailout of the big banks during his first months as president to his embrace of massive budget cuts to vital social programs last year, Obama has made it clear that he and his party are not on the side of working people.
Both parties are parties of and for corporate America. The ruling class treats the elections like they treat other investments: capitalists analyze both the Republican and Democratic candidates and see which one is most likely to win. They then hedge their bets, oftentimes throwing campaign contributions at both candidates in order to ensure their profits are protected regardless of which candidate emerges victorious.
This further underscores the need to break with the two-party system and form an independent workers’ party that owes nothing to Wall Street or big corporations and can fight unequivocally to better the lives of working people.