One of the most treasured and respected notions of the American system of government is that it is by the people and for the people, and that it values every opinion and desire of the people it is responsible for. This is said to be accomplished by a representative democracy, where the elected person speaks for the entire group (Hastings 4). .
Therefore, it seems reasonable to assume that any eligible person should be able to run for, and win, an office in the American government with no unfair advantages given to one candidate over another. .
This ideal still exists today, but only in theory. Candidates with multi-million dollar checkbooks are able to crush competition that doesn't have the resources of its opponent. This problem has existed for some time, and in 1974 lawmakers passed legislation limiting individuals to $1,000 donations per candidate for federal office and $20,000 a year to political parties in hard money (Sifry 27). Hard money is funding that can be spent directly on a federal campaign. .
In that legislation, however, there was no cap placed on soft money, or funds that can be made to the party for party-building activities only. These funds are unlimited and unregulated, and this is where the problem arises. Soft money is used very often for massive advertising campaigns that, while promoting the specific party, are clearly benefiting the party's candidate. There is bipartisan agreement that those funds are used in ways that mock the law (Hastings 7). Soft money fundraising isn't waning, either. In the 2000 elections, over $500 million was raised by the Democratic and Republican parties in soft money (Sifry 26). .
This massive, illegal use of money is quite possibly the biggest problem with our government. The soft money fundraising and spending places huge costs on citizens, suppresses the advancement of the country, and is a detriment to democracy. Because of these effects, campaign finance reform is necessary.