cover image Buying the Vote: A History of Campaign Finance Reform

Buying the Vote: A History of Campaign Finance Reform

Robert E. Mutch. Oxford Univ, $34.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-19-934000-2

Campaign finance expert Mutch surveys an incendiary and timely subject with considerable finesse. Taking a historical perspective, he begins with an analysis of the election of 1904 and the individuals contributing to Theodore Roosevelt’s successful bid for the presidency. He surveys campaign financing trends and reform cycles during the 20th century, contending (though too broadly) that Republicans have been the “sole business party since 1896.” He briefly considers Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign innovations, notably how his team used the Internet for fund-raising. Mutch includes detailed commentaries on Supreme Court rulings, focusing on the widely followed and criticized 2010 Citizens United case, the ruling that prohibits the government from restricting corporate and union political expenditures, and vastly widens the power of outside money in the electoral system. Mutch condemns the decision, saying the Court’s “history is fanciful and the logic is ideological.” Given prevailing judicial thought on the First Amendment and rights of corporations, he is pessimistic about the possibilities of containing their influence in future elections. [em](Aug.) [/em]