In the United States, only 29 percent of young people ages 18-29 feel that they have a say in our government. I believe that young people need to be empowered to be leaders of today and create positive change in this world. I'm finding this harder and harder to do when youth votes are worth less and less to elected officials.
On Wednesday, April 2, the Supreme Court issued a ruling for McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission that states that aggregate campaign donor limits are unconstitutional. This is a huge win for wealthy donors, but not so much for people who cannot afford to continuously donate to political candidates and campaigns. Although this ruling does not change the $5,200 limit that a person can donate to a single candidate during a two year election cycle, it gets rid of the $123,200 cap on total campaign contributions. This ruling is a threat to the very fundamentals of democracy. Wealthy donors will be able to use their money to influence political decisions and candidates, taking that power away from the very people that these decisions affect the most.
To the Supreme Court, corruption is defined as bribery, receiving money to commit a specific act, such as supporting a bill that benefits the briber. This definition does not cover the harm of buying influence over a political candidate(s). In a system where money plays a large part of staying in office, isn't a candidate more likely to take stances that benefit the people financing his political career? With institutions that continue to expand income inequality, do little to decrease the gender pay gap, and students graduating with an average of $29,400 in student loan debt, this ruling creates a political atmosphere where these donors are older white men, which tremendously minimizes the voices of women, people of color and youth.
When we're telling young people in government classes that voting is a crucial aspect of a democratic society, should we warn that their vote may not be worth as much as a voter with a larger bank account? At what point do the voices of the people outweigh the zeros on a check? We need to create a government system that engages people of all backgrounds. Not just the ones who can afford it.
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