Here's a depressing statistic from Washington Post political reporter Chris Cillizza:
With reports of Jeb Bush telling donors not to give more than $1 million to his presidential campaign in waiting and Hillary Clinton aiming at a floor of $1 billion raised for her 2016 bid, the hand-wringing over the influence of money in politics has begun (again).
And, yes, lots and lots of money gets spent on elections -- money that, arguably, might be better spent elsewhere. But, it's also important to add a bit of context to the big numbers that get thrown around in terms of campaign spending. Republican pollsters Gene Ulm and Brian O'Bannon do just that in a blog post where they note that the estimated $7 billion spent on the entire two-year 2012 election pales in comparison to the amount of money gambled on the NCAA Tournament bracket from just Monday through Thursday of this past week.
The duo write: "Significantly more money will be spent on tolerated, but illegal bracket gambling than spent on a legal, but not tolerated presidential election. Begging the question: Is there McCain-Feingold bracket reform in the future?"
What that means of course is that if you want to buy a national election, you only need a couple billion dollars. That's pretty cheap compared to the trillions that compose our GDP. You can effectively buy a country's politics for less than one-tenth of one percent of what America produces in a year.
We sell ourselves cheaply, do we not?