Here, you will find the top political donors between the years 1989 and 2012, as compiled by www.opensecrets.org:
At least for me... Here are the major take-aways:
- Unions dominate political spending, and have for a very long time.
- Pretty much all unions, but particularly the public sector unions (who - in a spectacular conflict of interest to the taxpayer - are spending members' money to elect the people on the "other side" of the apocryphal bargaining table), give almost exclusively to Democratic politicians.
- Predictably and by contrast, when you look at the corporate political spending it is split fairly evenly between Republicans & Democrats.
- To the extent that any organization within this list of the top 30 political donors contributes most heavily to Republicans, the split is not overwhelming in the way that union spending is.
- It is not "capitalists" who have the most influence, but rather any well-organized special interest groups.
Here's my thought on this:
We all already know Democrats are abysmal on limiting the power of government. That's more or less their raison d'etra as far as i can tell. "They" (by which I guess I mean the Democrat political class) favor expansions of state power in literally every aspect of our lives. Even when ostensibly allowing for more freedom, such as marijuana legalization (which the current crop of Democrats is pitiful on), they still favor centrally managing and taxing those things. So we're looking at more state power over education, health care, transportation, the market in general, finance/banking, etc.
But Republicans as well are generally awful on everything too (if your goal is limiting the state)!
More state power over people's relationships, over their bodies... More state power to wage wars internationally - even without declaring them or having the slightest shred of moral justification. In virtually any area in which Democrats aren't aggressively trying to expand political power over people's lives, Republicans tend to pick up the slack.
And all groups work tirelessly to dole out special benefits to favored special interests... Because, well... That's the whole point.
So what do we learn?
Statists win, and they win BIG. In fact, it might even be fair to say that the more statist your political platform, the better you do in the long run - particularly when it comes to control over the economy. The other thing we learn is that libertarian ideas don't even warrant an honorable mention.
I think Philosoraptor got it right: If big businesses love the free market so much and have so much control over politics... Why don't they support libertarian candidates?