THE COSTS OF DEMOCRACY by Alexander Heard

THE COSTS OF DEMOCRACY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This is a thoroughly documented statistical study of campaign finance, particularly commendable for its readability. Monumental in scope, it is a work of a pioneering sort, since nothing like it has been attempted before this. Prof. Heard has foraged far and wide to find the materials with which to work, and he has had the help of over 600 politicians in amassing his facts and figures. These findings should therefore illuminate one of the more controversial and hitherto unexplored areas of American political life. The book considers the five major phases of campaign finance: the effect of expenditures on the outcome of an election; the significance of a monetary contribution as a political act; sources of funds; the ways funds are received and the ways they are spent; the revision and regulation of existing practices. The author closes his study with several proposals for altering the present system. Some of his more interesting revelations are: that the real costs of political campaigning have not soared steadily upward as generally believed; that the side with the most money will not necessarily win; that campaign monies are not supplied by a rich few (about 8,000,000 people made financial contributions in the campaigns of 1956) and that the incidence of confusion, error, and administrative inefficiency in party and campaign affairs is appalling and costly. Of unusual interest are Prof. Heard's investigations into the relationships between crime and politics in our system. While he does not overestimate the power that organized crime has in our country, neither does he underestimate it. Criminals buy protection, and in some cases they invest in small politicians who have good chances of becoming big politicians. Prof. Heard goes into considerable detail concerning how campaign funds are ultimately spent. The advertising agency gets a huge chunk of the money. No one seems to know, however, what a political campaign should really cost. The result is that the campaigners usually spend as much as they have. The hundreds of footnotes and many charts will be of great use to specialists in this field.

Publisher: Univ. of N. Ca. Press