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The corporate thought process does not dictate that the company should now slink away chastened. It dictates that the company should spend more next time. Progressives will always have to expend vast amounts of energy organizing thousands and thousands of people to act in concert to maintain their tenuous hold on power. All corporations have to do is write a check.
At this unequal work rate, one side is bound to get tired before the other.
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An unfortunate truth is that political spending is a great investment. The best, perhaps. After every election cycle, we are treated to news stories portraying the ever higher amount of money spent on the races as a staggering sum.
But that betrays a lack of perspective. While we commoners gape slack-jawed at nine zeroes in the spending column, business interests know that there are several more zeroes to be recouped on the other side of the elections. As long as this basic math holds true — and as long as our laws allow it — money will control politics.
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And since the return on investment is so grand, spending will only keep increasing. This is the raw logic of capitalism that can never be overcome as long as our set of rules stays as it is.
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So yes, we will have to drastically change our campaign finance laws if we want to begin to overcome the gravitational pull of wealth warping our democracy. But if we ever want to get serious about that dream of a political system that represents everyone, we will have to do something more definitive: take all the money away from the rich.
Hamilton Nolan is a writer based in New York City. Topics US politics Opinion.
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