First of all, congratulations to our Chief Election Commissioner Dr. Quraishi for yet again managing the elections with the least reports of rigging; congratulations also to Akhilesh for becoming an icon overnight for the Indian youth through sheer hard work. I shall write on him very soon! This time, I want to write on something that is spoken about every time that elections are held anywhere in India – the question of election time funding. Of course, it’s shameful the way black money dominates election funding in India. But then, if you thought American Presidential elections – the nomination fight for which is underway currently in the USA – are clean, then here are some facts which will make you think again!
Actually, throughout history, elections have never been democratic in the true sense with money power significantly dominating the outcome instead of ability, one way or the other. There has been rarely an election where power-variables have not played their role. Almost all elections around the world are manipulated to one extent or the other with money, power, rigging, hacking or even fixing. The upcoming American Presidential election is no exception either. Clearly a strange paradox – on one hand, the American election system is considered one of the most transparent electoral processes; on the other, this very election rarely has been fair to its masses.
Unlike in India, where election funding is mostly clandestine and is funded primarily with black money, the US electoral system has been legally endowed with formal procedures to direct cash flows into the system, especially for election campaigns. On hindsight, it might appear that therefore, the elections held in the US would be quite transparent and money would play a moderate role in deciding the final winner. Unfortunately, the fact is that irrespective of how transparent the election process might be, money power is quintessential for any political party or any Presidential candidate to perform well in the elections – that in itself undermines the true essence of democracy! Today, the underlined fact is that globally, it is money that makes one win the elections, (and this has been proved through various studies). Period!
US election laws allow Political Action Committees (PACs) – organizations that campaign in favour or against political candidates – to raise money for financing the election process. In the veil of being non governmental organisations, the so called PACs have been known to generally redirect money obtained for electioneering to specific political lobbying and political purposes. However, now a new kind of PAC – called the ‘Super PAC’ – has come into existence. These infamous Super PACs gained legal backing and dubious prominence after two court judgments in 2010; the first by the US Supreme Court and the second by Federal Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Post these judgments, a Super PAC is allowed to be the recipient of an unlimited sum of money from individuals, corporations, or unions and further can keep their names anonymous – provided the Super PAC remains independent and away from the direct control of any political party/candidate it is supporting! As is quite evident, the latter part of the ‘direct control’ requirement can be quite easily fudged over, thus ensuring that the Super PAC model has given the perfect opportunity for political parties and candidates to sidestep the existing campaign finance rule, which enforces that no individual can give more than $2,500 to candidates during the nomination race and another $2,500 during the actual elections. Apparently, contributions to Super PACs can be unlimited (as they’re ostensibly ‘independent’ of the candidates). Even though officially the Super PACs seem to be independent bodies with no connections to respective candidates and political parties, it’s anybody’s guess that no sensible and wealthy American would leave out on an opportunity to gain the most out of this system. Also, needless to say, many of these Super PACs are in reality run by the candidates’ own acquaintances and former associates!     Read More....

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