Rachel Alexander

Elections are not about choosing the most qualified, experienced, or intelligent candidates. The single most influential factor in an election is money. Television ads and campaign mailers are still the most effective way to influence races, and the candidates and issue advocacy organizations with the most money to spend in these areas generally win. Whether the money is given directly to a candidate, or is spent independently of a candidate is irrelevant, it all has the same effect. Who can forget the effect the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads had on the presidential race between George W. Bush and John Kerry.

The biggest contributors to political campaigns come from the left. Many of these organizations are closely tied to government. Unions only exist in some states by force of government regulation. This connection has gotten even more powerful this year, with the rise of the government employees’ union as the top contributor to political campaigns. The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) spent $87.5 million this year to help Democrats. AFSCME is ranked as the third biggest contributor to campaigns cumulatively over the past 20 years, with 98% of its money going to Democrats.

What is most disturbing about this is that government is now indirectly the largest special interest group influencing elections. How did this union get to be so powerful? Through gradual expansion of the size of government. Now that AFSCME has become this powerful, it has enormous influence ensuring that government remains bloated and continues expanding. An example of its influence: Federal employees now make double the amount of money as their counterparts in the private sector, and have been awarded higher pay and benefit increases than those counterparts for the past nine years in a row. Federal employee salaries alone have grown 33% faster than inflation since 2000. Their private sector counterparts have seen their total compensation grow by only 8.8% in that same period. Federal employee c increased despite the recent downturn in the economy. Since larger government favors Democrats, the rise of AFSCME means bad news for Republicans in the future.

Rachel Alexander

Rachel Alexander is the editor of the Intellectual Conservative. She also serves as senior editor of The Stream.