Critics of American politics often say that spending on electoral campaigns harms our democracy and charge that the money goes for cynical, negative, and misleading advertisements that alienate the public from politics and elections. However, studies indicate that campaign spending does not diminish trust, efficacy, and involvement. Moreover, spending increases public knowledge of the candidates, across essentially all groups in the population. This paper explores the idea that getting more money into campaigns should, on the whole, be beneficial to American democracy.
This article takes a critical look at the popular consensus that “sunshine is the best disinfectant,” when it comes to disclosure of political contributions. The author examines disclosure laws that apply to individual contributions and the privacy issues inherent in increased mandated disclosure, especially as they apply to smaller amounts. He concludes by suggesting policymakers look beyond disclosure as a way to increase fairness, openness, equality and robust debate.