In response to Slate Star Codex's Too Much Dark Money In Almonds.
Because bribing politicians is wrong, and most people aren't persuaded by political ads.
I don't know why the corporate-bribery theory, that there's so much money in government handouts that it doesn't make sense for almost no money to be spent on politicians, is taken seriously. If anything, it is saying, look here, be surprised – a healthy enough starting place – but let's imagine things more complexly.
Imagine someone who, in a board meeting, is saying, let's use our dollars to try and bribe our way to government handouts.
That person is just too slimy. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of weird swamp-y stuff in D.C. – but man, people have limits. They'll donate a little, to make their voice heard. But they don't want to saturate a system with tons of bribes. Holy hannah, it's just wrong, and it being technically illegal to ask for a quid pro quo is just the excuse people will use to avoid doing it. "Ah, yes, it would benefit our shareholders, but compliance says it's dicey to even remotely attempt this, so shucks."
I hope we all appreciate why this doesn't happen in corporations. You'd be a pariah to even suggest something like this.
And individuals don't donate because the money is, almost universally, poorly spent. And they know it. They aren't trying to get anything out of their donation except the politician getting elected, and campaign spending doesn't influence elections (as mentioned in the article, with these two sources). People see it. They see Jeb Bush fail and Donald Trump succeed. Donations don't do anything, so why give if success is all that motivates you?
People may claim to believe money makes a difference, but that's just a cynical hat on top of the plain-as-day observation that it doesn't. We shouldn't take people's cynicism as an honest description of their ideas. They certainly don't think campaign spending decided how they themselves would vote, and that's the only person they have any understanding of.