On Thursday, Oct. 11, Democracy Matters held a panel focusing on the influence of money on the 2012 presidential election and previous presidential elections. Both University and non-University professors served as panelists.
During the panel, the professors claimed that fiscal matters are too intertwined with elections. They also noted their concerns with organizations like Citizens United, a conservative non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. This court decision ruled that the First Amendment protects political spending as a form of free speech. In addition to professors from Wesleyan, Executive Director of Democracy Matters and Colgate University professor Joan Mandle participated as well.
Associate Professor of Government Elvin Lim started the discussion with a comment on the capacity for wealthy donors to have a greater impact on elections than ordinary citizens.
“The problem that must be articulated is that very rich individuals would be allowed to spend a lot of money to fund campaigns and super PACs,” Lim said.
Other panelists responded by discussing the ways in which such spending lessens the voice of other individuals in politics.
While discussing the impact of the amount of Democrats and Republicans on the Supreme Court, Lim said that even if there are more Democrats, in certain cases the court will still side with liberty.
“The U.S. Constitution is entirely about liberty,” Lim said. “Republicans care about liberty and Democrats care about equality.”
According to Mandle, Romney and Obama spent $600 million on campaigning. Maimouna Siby ’16, a student in attendance, said that she was surprised by this total.
“I thought attending this panel was very helpful with informing me about how much of a role money plays in this year’s election,” Siby said. “I didn’t realize how much each candidate spent on campaigns.”