Review: The Federal Election Campaign Act and the 1980 Election

Briffault, Richard

Richard Briffault reviews Financing the 1980 Election by Herbert E. Alexander, and Politics and Money by Elizabeth Drew. This article analyzes Drew's and Alexander's findings concerning the effects of FECA on the financing of the general election phase of the 1980 presidential and congressional elections. These financial histories of the 1980 elections suggest that the mix of public and private components in our campaign finance system has proven unstable, and that public and private methods of financing political campaigns may not be easily reconcilable in a single system after all. If this is the case, Congress and the Court may have to consider again the degree to which our election campaigns should be publicly or privately funded. That will require the resolution of the underlying question of what the role of private wealth -- and of private inequality -- should be in financing an electoral process nominally predicated on the norm of political equality.


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September 16, 2016