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That large ¹nancial contributions distort American politics and American democracy is an idea that stands as a truism in political debate. It has ¹red reform movements; it has inspired round after round of efforts to limit who can give to candidates and parties, how much they can give, and how much campaigns can spend. The laws have generated constitutional arguments about free speech, a still inconclusive literature on whether contributions actually shape policy, and a great deal of work for lawyers and ¹nancial analysts who monitor compliance. In the wake of Enron's collapse and subsequent revelations about that corporation's involvement with policymakers, the public's attention has once again focused on the role that money plays in politics. Little of the scholarly work (and none of the legal work) is historical. Yet history can shed light on the long-running debate about the impact of money on politics and what, if anything, are plausible policy options. This collection of original essays is a step in that direction. The chapters cover episodes from the early nineteenth century through the 1970s. They illustrate how deep concern about money in politics runs--and how the de¹nition of the problem has changed over time. Through the nineteenth century, the "spoils system" in which party loyalists gained reward for their efforts appeared to be the evil that blocked responsive parties and honest public administration. Party war chests that brought howls of complaint (and great exaggeration) seemed quaint by the middle of the twentieth century. In part because reform had weakened the parties and campaigns required consultants' skills in coordination and in part because television advertising was so expensive, the cost of campaigns rose. Candidates griped and policy entrepreneurs worked out possible solutions, which were in place before the Watergate scandal focused public attention on campaign ¹nance. In the history of campaign-¹nance reform, one generation's solutions have tended to become another's problem. Contributors to the volume are Paula Baker, Robert Mutch, Mark Wahlgren Summers, and Julian E. Zelizer.

Table of Contents

  1. Front Cover
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  1. Copyright Page
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  1. Contents
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  1. Editor’s Preface
  2. pp. vii-viii
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  1. Introduction: Does Money Buy Policy?
  2. pp. 1-3
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  1. Campaigns and Potato Chips; Or Some Causes and Consequences of Political Spending
  2. pp. 4-29
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  1. The First Federal Campaign Finance Bills
  2. pp. 30-48
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  1. “To Make the Wheels Revolve We Must Have Grease”: Barrel Politics in the Gilded Age
  2. pp. 49-72
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  1. Seeds of Cynicism: The Struggle over Campaign Finance, 1956–1974
  2. pp. 73-111
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  1. Contributors
  2. pp. 112-112
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