(COVINGTON, La.) — Democracy is the key to making any free government tick. It’s what gets the wheels of personal liberty spinning, ensuring that elected officials represent the people and, more importantly, uphold their rights. The defining aspect of democracy is elections, ensuring that citizens maintain the power in the country, as they decide through popular vote who will hold public office and influence their lives. However, there is one practice that threatens the purity of the institution altogether: dark money.
Dark money is when corporations and wealthy individuals donate money through often bogus non-profit organizations who then donate to political candidates. By donating through non-profit groups they keep their identities obscured and are therefore able to influence US elections by funding a candidate’s campaign. The real issue, though, is that once this money is donated, the candidates, if elected, are beholden to their donors. These politicians will then influence legislation in favor of their donors instead of the American people who voted them into office, hurting the Democratic process.
Voters have a right to know if the candidate they support will keep them in mind first and foremost instead of incredibly wealthy organizations, as this keeps the ideals of a democracy pure. This sentiment has been echoed by many across the country and can be evidenced in proposed legislation in California which would have required politicians to wear pins with their donors’ logos in order to allow the voters to see exactly who is influencing their policy. Other motions in Congress such as the Disclose Act aim to cease the practice of dark money by revoking the anonymity provided to non-profit organizations, though the current presidential administration is opposed to this and it seems unlikely to pass. It is a very critical issue, as nearly ⅔ of the presidential election campaign money last year was dark money.
There is yet another issue with dark money, as corporations and wealthy individuals are not the only groups able to take advantage of the current donation system. Foreign nationals can donate
to political candidates anonymously through the current system, something explicitly illegal yet scarily frequent. In 2016, the FBI arrested a Russian national who was caught doing just this, attempting to influence the presidential election through the NRA’s non-profit arm. Foreign powers are not allowed to donate to candidates, and when it occurs these politicians are beholden to them just as they are to any other corporate donor. This has serious implications when it comes to national security and must be prevented at all costs.
Dark money is a dangerous practice that threatens Democracy as we know it by making politicians beholden to corporations and foreign nationals, influencing legislation in favor of their donors instead of the American people. It runs rampant within the election system and must be stopped at all costs, because it’s hard to say the US is founded on these principles otherwise. It’s difficult to be of, by, and for the people when it’s seems to be mostly for the multi-billion dollar corporations and foreign nationals.
For democracy’s sake, we must end dark money.
“Smarticle” is the regular column by Paper Wolf Writer and Editor Hal Fox, in which he addresses issues from media to politics to whatever he feels like.