Illustration by Christine Hipp

How much does an election cost? For the upcoming election the answer looks to be in the millions or higher as both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have raised over a billion dollars for their presidential race. Much of this money is being given by large corporations due to the success of Citizens United in the 2010 Supreme Court case. This case said that corporations are able to give vast amounts of money to whatever political candidate or cause they choose.

But corporations are only part of the problem. It isn’t about who is putting money into politics, but how much is going in. Period.

Enormous sums have been going into politics long before Citizens United, and unless we demand a cap on campaign spending, it will continue into the future.

A current example of political money run amok is California’s Proposition 37, which would require genetically modified organisms (GMOs), particularly foods, to be labeled. Many agricultural businesses that have investments in GMOs have thrown their money against the proposition. The agricultural giant Monsanto has alone given over $7 million to the

committee No on 37: Coalition Against the Deceptive Food Labeling Scheme, sponsored by Farmers and Food Producers. Many other food and agriculture corporations like Mars Incorporated, Sunny Delight Beverages Company and the Hershey Company are also generously giving to the committee. But Prop 37 isn’t the only proposition affected by money, and not all of it is coming from corporations.

Campaigns both for and against California’s Proposition 30, which would raise sales tax and income taxes on individuals earning over $250,000 in order to help fund K-12 schools and community colleges, are getting a lot of money from non-corporate sponsors. Campaigns supporting Proposition 30 have received $1.2 million from Laborers’ Pacific Southwest Regional Organizing Coalition. Meanwhile the No New Taxes, No on 30 committee, and A Project of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association received over $93,000 just from non-corporate individuals in California.

This problem is not a new one or unique to the current election. Money has been influencing politics well before Citizen’s United. In 2008, for example, money raised in support of Proposition 8, which prevented same-sex couples from marrying, was over $22 million.

Such vast amounts of money mean that our elections are up for sale to the highest bidder. What power does that leave the people? As citizens and voters, we must demand not only that the Citizens United decision be overturned, but that a national general campaign funding cap be put in place. Massive amounts of money from many different sources have been influencing our government for far too long, and with this presidential campaign already the most expensive in history, it is high time to take a stand.