Getting big money out of politics starts in the voting booths

On Mar. 20, J.B. Pritzker won the democratic gubernatorial primary over Chris Kennedy and Daniel Biss—and it wasn’t even close.

Pritzker dominated throughout Illinois, leading by 120,000 votes in Cook County, according to the Chicago Tribune. While Pritzker failed to get over 50% of the votes, he doubled the totals of both Biss and Kennedy, who likely split votes among more progressive voters.

Arguably more impressive than his margin of victory remains the amount of money Pritzker is spending on his own campaign. With a net worth of over 3.5 billion dollars, he has plenty of pocket money—70 million dollars worth to spend on the primary alone, according to the Chicago Tribune.

This means that in November we will see multimillionaire incumbent Bruce Rauner face a billionaire in the race for governor of Illinois.

So much for taking the money out of politics.
The state of Illinois is in a budget crisis, has significant disparities in the funding of public schools, and holds the fourth highest murder rate in the country.
We have serious problems, and they need to be fixed. But, the state of Illinois is running out of money.

It seems ironic that the two final candidates for governor will ultimately end up spending over $200 million of their own money on this election.

While Pritzker insists that he is making the $200,000-a-day investment for the purpose of getting Bruce Rauner out of office, it is still unsettling to see someone put that much money into a political campaign, especially as a Democrat.

It’s okay for someone with money to run for office, but the amount of money he or she spends should not be ignored.

It should be noted that Pritzker has gained a significant advantage due to his personal wealth rather than fundraising and donations from the citizens of Illinois.

Pritzker was able to buy numerous television ads encouraging Illinois’ democrats to vote for him.

Kennedy and Biss also bought ads, but they didn’t have the money to compete with the amount of airtime Pritzker’s campaign could afford.

A democracy that’s supposed to be controlled by the people is now heavily influenced by super-PACS and billionaires come election time.

I know some of you would love to hear it’s just the Republicans, but that isn’t true.

In the 2016 presidential election, Clinton and Trump spent a combined $2.4 billion, according to the Washington Post. Trump got 80 million of that from super-PACS, while Clinton received 200 million.

The Clinton campaign received 16% of funding from donations of $200 or less while Trump received 26% from these smaller donations. Bernie Sanders refused to accept donations from Super-PACS but received smaller donations on a scale we have never seen before.

Sanders kept the primary close, and probably would have won had Clinton been forced to gain funding from smaller donors and win national support without the backing of the DNC.

Why does this matter? Simply put, Clinton won the support of fewer yet richer people than Sanders did. If every citizen in America holds the same voting power, then the top 1 percent should not hold the same influence that the other 99 percent do.

Pritzker had the privilege of being able to spend 70 million dollars of his own money without breaking a sweat. 99.99999 percent of the people living in Illinois don’t have that privilege.

Some say that although his wealth gives him an advantage that is unfair, nothing in life is fair. But, elections shouldn’t fall under the category of “life isn’t fair.” A democracy should not be run by money.

This election will be a bidding war between two of the richest candidates in Illinois history. Both Rauner and Pritzker will seek to translate personal spending into votes. This is a problem.

If we want to keep our democracy intact, it starts with the politicians we support. Hold Pritzker accountable: if you agree with everything he says, then make sure he gets elected based on that fact alone—not on the size of his bank account.