Campaign Spending


James is running for President of his Associated Student Government. James comes from a family that is very well off, and he works a couple campus jobs. His parents have promised to help him fund the campaign, and he has saved money of his own. Associated Student Government has no regulations that limit campaign spending, and James’s is campaign plan is comprehensive. He purchased advertising in the campus newspaper, at the campus theater, and on bus stops in the area. He hands out custom water bottles at his campaign stations. On Election Day, James plans to rent several black Mercedes Benz sports cars to drive students to classes, back and forth across campus. They will be decorated with his campaign stickers and will only be available to students who vote for his ticket.

As campaigns kick off, James realizes that the opposing candidate, Alix, has significantly fewer resources than he does. He knows that she comes from an economically disadvantaged family. Alix fundraises to help pay for even the most basic marketing. The disparity doesn’t seem fair, and James starts to question his campaign. Alix is an excellent leader, and great competition for the presidential position. Her student government position has allowed her to receive pay while also developing managerial skills unavailable in other jobs, and she is passionate about the work. Alix’s marketing just doesn’t have as much reach. James knows he is a very strong candidate as well. He doesn’t want to win the election simply because he rented Mercedes Benz cars on Election Day. James also wants to run the best, most effective campaign he can to win the election, and that plan involves the sports cars.

James is at a crossroads. Should he limit his spending to be more fair to Alix, or continue to spend and execute the most effective possible campaign, as he’s allowed to do because there are no campaign spending limits? If James wins, do you think it is because he is the most qualified candidate? What would you do in James’s position?

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