The 2016 US presidential election will be the most expensive in history, costing an estimated $10 billion, when all spending by candidates, the Democratic and Republican parties, super PACs and other corporate lobbies and trade unions is tabulated.
The vast sums being raised and spent by the Democratic and Republican candidates make a mockery of the claims that the United States is a democracy in which the people rule. It is big money that rules, dominating the entire process of selecting the candidates of the only two officially recognized parties and effectively determining the outcome of the vote on November 8, 2016.
Of the $390 million raised so far, $300 million has gone to the 15 announced candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, while $90 million has gone to four Democrats—$71.5 million of that to the Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. The disparity is misleading: once the primary contest is over, and a Republican is selected to face Clinton, there will be billions spent on each side in the general election campaign.
The role of big money in the presidential campaign has become so obvious that even the corporate-controlled media can’t cover it up any longer. The Washington Post, for example, published a report July 16 whose headline left little to the imagination: “2016 fundraising shows power tilting to groups backed by wealthy elite.” The article noted that “independent” expenditures by so-called super PACs—political action committees loosely linked to the candidates—would for the first time exceed the spending by the candidates and their official campaign committees.
On the Republican side, the pace has been set by Jeb Bush, brother of former president George W. Bush and son of former president George H.W. Bush. His campaign and two associated super PACs raised $119 million during the second quarter of 2015, the largest amount ever raised for a presidential candidate so early in the campaign.