November 3, 2015
By Maggie Angel
Although the 2014 midterm elections seem like they were just yesterday, American politicians are ready for the 2016 presidential election season. There have already been three Republican debates and one Democratic debate, even though the primaries and the general election are months away. In Canada, they just elected their new Prime Minister after a lengthy 11-week campaign. Countries such as Mexico, Japan, Argentina, France and the United Kingdom have laws limiting campaign seasons and campaign spending. National Public Radio recently compared the duration of campaign seasons in a variety of countries. The U.S. surpassed Mexico, the U.K, Canada and Japan by over 400 days.
Ever since the United States Supreme Court’s Citizens United case in 2010, campaign spending has been a contested topic. The Supreme Court ruled that money is in line with free speech and that corporations have the right to spend. Individual contributions and political action committees (PACs) are subject to regulation by the Federal Election Commission limiting individual donations to $2,700 per candidate and $5,000 for PAC’s. However under Citizens United, corporations are not subject to donation limits. SuperPACs were created to raise millions of dollars to funnel into certain campaigns. This lack of regulation in the U.S. has led to unlimited spending on campaigns.
The Center for Responsive Politics estimated that the 2012 presidential election spent 2 billion dollars total. Thanks to SuperPACs, 158 families contributed about half of the funds for all candidates in the 2016 election adding up to 176 million dollars. It’s important to remember that there is over a year before Americans actually starting voting. The need for millions and millions of dollars in TV ads, rallies and state travel requires candidates to fundraise well ahead of time, which contributes to the seemingly eternal campaign season.
Despite the U.S.’s ridiculously long and expensive campaign season, the 2016 election is a very important one. The next administration will face important issues such as American foreign policy in the Middle East and Asia, women’s rights and the economy. Make sure to tune into the debates, discuss with friends, formulate opinions and get involved. You have about a year to decide whether you want to make America great again and vote for Hillary or if you’re feeling the Bern.