Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have been the surprising success stories of the 2016 presidential election. On the left, Sanders calls for progressive reforms like universal health care and universal voting rights. On the right, Trump uses an anti-immigrant, nationalistic rhetoric about “making America great again.” What both candidates have in common, however, is a desire to get big money out of politics.
According to a recent New York Times poll, the majority of Americans believe money has too much of an influence on American politics. A staggeringly high 84 percent answered that money has “too much” influence in American political campaigns. Just 10 percent claimed the role of money is “about right.” The poll also found that 66 percent of Americans believe the wealthy have more influence over elections than other Americans.
Another surprising element of the poll is that there is support across party lines for reform. A relatively high 46 percent of respondents claimed that the U.S. needs to “completely rebuild” the system for funding campaigns. Zero percent answered “No changes needed,” while 39 percent called for “Fundamental changes.” Surprisingly, the majority of voters at 54 percent also claimed that money given to political candidates is “not free speech.” It is obvious that voters do not want elections to be so clearly determined by those with the most wealth.
The results of this poll correspond with the rise in popularity of both Trump and Sanders. American voters are increasingly distrustful of politicians whose campaigns are funded by major corporations or big business. Sanders has repeatedly denounced the massive influence of the Koch brothers on the Republican Party’s election, criticizing our current system of government as being an oligarchy. Trump has repeatedly assured his supporters that he’s rich enough to never have to be swayed by corporate interest. If the people continue supporting either candidate, the nation could change the way money controls our politicians. If money-raising candidates like Clinton or Bush win the election, it will be a sign that wealth has gotten so far out of hand that it controls our political system even if we don’t want it to.
Image Source: The Washington Spectator