In a world where radical parties are increasingly gaining power, the tech and startup industries are ramping up their political donations. And this could be a good thing: reforms could mean fewer extremists in power. Listed and ranked voting is just some of the reforms being pushed for in the United States. But, these measures only apply in a handful of states.
Tech Companies are Ramping up Political Donations
While most tech companies are shifting their political donations to more conservative political parties, some are shifting to more liberal causes. For example, Facebook, the billion-dollar social media company, has increased its political donations to Democrats. The company’s co-founder, Franklin Antonio, has been writing more extensive checks to conservative groups focused on electing Republicans and keeping Republicans in power. He has also contributed to Democratic groups that support Democratic Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia and Dick Durbin of Illinois.
While Big Tech companies are not directly financing candidates and political candidates, they do spend large amounts on political campaigns. For example, in the 2020 midterm elections, Google and Amazon will spend over $1 million combined. Both companies report profits of $34.3 billion and $11.6 billion, respectively. Meanwhile, Facebook and Microsoft will pay more than $370,000. These tech companies’ PACs will split their contributions between the major political parties, with 56% going to Democrats.
Other tech companies are increasing their political contributions to moderate political parties. For example, Google’s PAC will consist of employees and staffers. This group has been critical of recent calls to break up tech giants. It also pushed back against the House Judiciary 2020 antitrust report by sending employees to testify on behalf of Big Tech.
Tech companies have historically supported Democratic candidates but have recently increased their contributions to moderate candidates. In the last election cycle, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft have shifted their political donations to more moderate political parties. They are also funneling money to Democratic congressional and Senate candidates. Some tech companies are even making a conscious effort to split their political donations, despite their traditionally conservative stances.
Startups are Boosting Donations
Startups are making a difference in American politics, with a new media center aimed at small towns. The IDEA Center, located at Notre Dame, has launched 27 startups in the first year it has been operating. It expects this accelerated pace of startup creation to become the new normal.
Reforms Could Result in Fewer Extremists Gaining Power
Reforms to our electoral system could make it easier for moderate political parties to compete with extremes. These changes will give moderate political parties new opportunities to gain power and influence in the future of our nation. However, the changes will not necessarily change the outcome of politics. There are deep forces at work in our society that will continue to push the two main parties apart.
In the past, the moderate parties often could not compete against the more extreme forces within their party. They used to rely on incumbency as an advantage, but now they are at a disadvantage. Their base has become increasingly polarized, and each election cycle, the moderates are pushed out of office by extremist candidates. This means the moderate party needs to focus on gaining power in the state by attracting moderate voters. However, this will take more than a year of hard work.
There are many ways to do this, but one of the most important is to make elections publicly financed. The traditional form of public financing involves a government grant to qualified candidates. An alternative public financing scheme involves matching government money with minor contributions from individuals. This is based on a program started in New York City.
The reforms should make it easier for moderates to gain power. Factionalization could lead to more opportunities for political moderates and a more factionalized legislative system closer to the framers’ intent. It could also revitalize the role of the elected legislator. The current system is so polarized that there are few productive things for members of Congress to do with their time.