Op-Ed: Politics is flooded with cash. Divert more of it to young campaign workers
When I was 22, my friends and I started a campaign committee to win a U.S. Senate seat in the Democratic primary. In the next two election cycles, we raised $8.6 million, mostly from small donors. Thanks to our tireless volunteer efforts, we were able to take on a GOP primary challenger and win.
As we prepare for the 2018 midterm elections, it is clear that politics has become flooded with money, as is the case with any other industry. Unfortunately, young people are being neglected in our politics. Campaigns are increasingly becoming cash-driven, but young people don’t have the money to be a part of the decision-making process when it comes to political campaigns.
Politicians and campaign committees have grown to be more about corporate donors and political donors. We have also seen a surge in the influence of money in politics, which has led to even more corporate donations.
This situation threatens young people’s political rights — the right to run for office.
In this era, voters are choosing their representatives in smaller and smaller numbers, and campaigns become more and more about cash. The political system is dominated by corporations and billionaires. The wealthy have a huge influence over our politics.
In the age of social media, fundraising is the new “going viral”. Individuals have a tremendous amount of ability to amplify their campaigns on social media, but they are not able to control the message. Campaign committees now rely on big donors to pay for advertising, and the more the campaign uses big donors, the more they lose control of their message.
There is strong evidence that politicians are making decisions based on money, as they try to secure more big donors to finance and participate in their campaigns.
There is also strong evidence that young people don’t have the money to contribute to political campaigns. The 2018 national study by the Center for Public Integrity revealed that there were 7,063 Democratic donors in the U.S. in 2018. The Center for Responsive Politics found that young people are the most likely age demographic to get involved in politics, with young people making donations to campaigns in roughly equal numbers with the age