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Checkbook Democracy: How Money Corrupts Political Campaigns

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Pages: 224

Language: English

Book format: An electronic version of a printed book that can be read on a computer or handheld device designed specifically for this purpose.

Publisher: Northeastern University Press (31 July 2000)

By: Darrell M. West (Author)

Counts are being taken before the political conventions convene: not delegates, but dollars. Public officials court donors more than voters, while the party faithful rally around the war chest rather than the platform. Virtually anything goes in campaign finance today, and, as a result, the electoral process is being hijacked by large contributions, secret influence, and increasingly unaccountable government leaders.In this lively and provocative book, Darrell M. West looks at how politics became such a money chase, why money has become such a pernicious influence on public debate, and what can be done to redeem the corrupted system. Drawing on interviews, memoirs, press coverage, legal depositions, and government documents, West's timely book investigates recent examples of campaign abuses to illustrate how political parties and organizations circumvent post-Watergate reform legislation -- and how money has become the key to winning elections and influencing the public. Included in his probe are such cases as the infamous Willie Horton ad in the 1988 presidential campaign, the Christian Action Network, Asian contributions to the Democrats, tobacco company donations to the Republicans, and President Clinton's 1996 campaign infractions. The numerous case studies expose the manifold loopholes and problems in current campaign finance laws, including soft money contributions, independent expenditures, issue advocacy, foreign contributions, and political activism by non-profit organizations.West's sober evaluation of the exploding costs of campaigns -- and escalating cynicism among voters -- offers a hard-hitting look at the forces working against reform and makes constructiveproposals for reversing this disconcerting trend in contemporary American politics.

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