04-03-2014 09:55 AM - edited 04-03-2014 09:56 AM
In yesterday's ruling, the supreme court delivered a death blow to any sensible campaign financing laws and declared that money is free speech. Therefore all limits as to how much a wealthy donor can contribute in political campaigns is now unlimited. Of course this turns elections in the United States more into auctions where it seems that the prize of the office goes to the highest bidder, not necessarily the best qualified candidate. Here is what a leading columnist had to say about this:
Money and deep-pocketed donors have always played a key role in American politics, but the wealthiest Americans are now flexing their political muscles more than at any time in decades. Consider the examples: On the right, the Koch Brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity has been airing millions of dollars in TV ads (see here and here) hitting Democrats in key 2014 Senate contests.
Just last week, a single billionaire -- conservative casino mogul Sheldon Adelson -- held what amounted to a political cattle call where four potential 2016 presidential candidates showed up. On the left, environmentalist billionaire Tom Steyer has vowed to spend $100 million in the 2014 midterms.
And in the relative center, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has created gun-control groups and turned a single Democratic special primary election in Chicago into a referendum on guns and the National Rifle Association. On top of this activity, Wednesday’s 5-to-4 Supreme Court decision allowing individuals to donate the maximum amount to as many federal campaigns as they wish only increases the amount of power and influence of super-rich donors. Moreover, it creates a new incentive structure for political parties and candidates to spend even MORE of their time courting these donors. The big loser in all of this new money and new power to the wealthy: the individual campaign (more on this below).
Here’s one guarantee from yesterday’s Supreme Court decision: You’re only going to see more money in politics. So if you didn’t think there was enough money in politics before yesterday, then you should be happy about yesterday’s decision. Indeed, when you add the McCutcheon decision (eliminating the aggregate contributing caps) to the Citizens United decision (providing the blueprint for creating the Super PAC era) and the end of matching funds, we’re seeing a financial arms race in American politics.
Political spending from outside groups -- either created or bankrolled by American billionaires -- has skyrocketed from $193 million in 2004 and $338 million in 2008, to a whopping $1 billion in 2012, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. To put this $1 billion in outside spending in perspective, it’s almost TWICE what John Kerry and George W. Bush spent COMBINED in the 2004 presidential race ($655 million). And it’s THREE TIMES the amount John McCain spent in the 2008 election ($333 million). Another way to look at all of this money: Overall political spending on races (presidential plus congressional) has DOUBLED from $3 billion in 2000 to $6.2 billion in 2012. And in presidential races alone, the combined amount that George W. Bush and Al Gore spent in 2000 (about $250 million) QUADRUPLED to the combined amount Barack Obama and Mitt Romney spent in 2012 ($1 billion-plus). And that doesn’t count the political-party spending…
Is this any way to run a democracy?
Read the entire piece at this link:
04-03-2014 10:08 AM
Golf, let's hope that in light of this the general public will somehow see the urgent need for public funded elections similar to Canada's. All of the $$Billions$$ that Corporate America will spend in our elections will be included in the cost of the goods and services that we all purchase. We will be the ones paying for all that they spend, it will cost the corporations nothing to have this powerful voice in Washington and in our elections. Anyone agreeing that this is OK is being duped.
04-03-2014 10:13 AM
IMHO this is a disturbing trend that MUST be reversed. When candidates become beholden to the wealthy money donors who finance their campaigns and successful campaigns for elected office becomes a money chase; what gets lost is the focus on the individual voter and what is in their best interests. I only hope that a more sensible supreme court will later reverse both the Citizens United and this McCutcheon decisions like a more enlightened supreme court reversed the 1896 Plessy Vs Ferguson decision allowing "separate, but equal" facilities when the court ruled against "separate, but equal" facilities in the Brown vs Board of Education in 1954. I just hope that it doesn't take 58 years before a more enlightened supreme court to reverse those bad decisions.
Last month I was at a meeting of the Mensa group that featured a professor of political science who gave a great talk about the political process in the United States and the evolution of citizen involvement in politics. His talk was mostly on the process and not on any candidates or parties. He stated that the Citizens United supreme court decision ranks with the Dred Scott decision as among the worst in history.
At the time, many believed that the supreme court with that decision would settle the slavery question. But instead of settling the slavery question, the Dred Scott decision only exacerbated the issue and helped bring upon the civil war that eventually settled the slavery question.
Perhaps citizen outrage and anger at this take over of the political process by ultra wealthy donors may force the legislatures and perhaps a future congress to do something that needs to be done - pass a constitutional amendment restricting how much can be spent on political campaigns and return the political process to where it belongs, to the individual voter.
But perhaps in the short run, the best we can do is make sure that those ultra wealthy mega donors spend their money on candidates that cannot or do not win. In the 2012 election; one man, billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson, spent more than 100 of his own money in an attempt to defeat President Obama and elect friendly Republicans to congress. In Ohio's 2012 senate election, he spent more than one million dollars trying to defeat Democratic senator Sherrod Brown and failed. The beneficiary of that largesse, Josh Mandel currently Ohio Treasurer, became "damaged goods" and is perceived by many Ohioo voters as too aligned with the wealthy donors who bankrolled his senate campaign. He may not be re-elected to the office he now holds this year.
Maybe all that money spent on mostly attack commercials against the opponent will cause many voters to get tired of all that and turn against the party running those attack ads. It seemed to work to a degree in Ohio in 2012 as many of those candidates who benefitted the most from those third party campaigns lost.
Perhaps it is time for the IRS to investigate those mega donors like Sheldon Adleson and the Koch Brothers. Make them spend their money on nothing as their backed candidates lose elections to those candidates who listen to the voters and actually campaign to the voters and not to the monied donors.
04-03-2014 10:19 AM
Chasky I hope that comes to pass that all federal and state elections are publicly funded with candidates receiving their campaign funds based on the number of people who voted in the last election and the number of registered voters. In this day of the internet, it should be relatively easier for a viable candidate to get their message across to many voters without having to spend millions on commercials and advertising that many turn off.
It got so bad during the 2012 campaign here in Ohio that I took to recording most commercial television programs, then watching them later and fast forwarding through the commercials. When I was watching live television, I would often mute the sound during the commercial breaks so I didn't have to pay attention to the political ads.
I really believe that most voters are tired of the constant campaigning and negative commercials that do nothing but attack and propose nothing positive. Then we wonder why nothing gets done and the only thing congress can pass is gas.
04-03-2014 11:24 AM
RE:Quackers comment - would that be true!? It depends on his net wealth and what passes down to heirs. This was published on the web yesterday:
First-Ever Political Study of Top 1% Has Found Extreme Conservatism, Intense Political Involvement
Well, at least it was the first I had read about - the details are pretty enlightening as to how these folks think - and why the Roberts court of wealthy RW judges were in line with GOP.
Note: There is a link to the entire study in the article.
04-03-2014 12:16 PM
Is this any way to run a democracy?
Perhaps the question should be: Is democracy any way to run a country? Wasn't it Socrates who prefered the poison to retracting his statements regarding the gods and democracy? That democracy wouldn't work because there were too many stupid people.
Regardless of how much money is spent, whether you want to consider it one person-one vote or one dollar-one vote, it still gets down to the total vote count. If most of those votes can be bought with the storm of sound bites and political commercials, then just how valuable is the voters contribution to the process? I've often criticized the sham of democracy in other countries because I didn't see the electorate as sufficiently educated or well enoough informed to particiapte in the process. Now the fear is that this is exactly what is occuring here. At least that's what is implied by the claim of what superpacs and unlimited campaign contributions give rise to - votes are easily purchased.
If that's the situation, then does just shifting campaign finance to public funds really confront the problem? How many voters really do think about their choices, if they really have them, before they vote? Or are they just making choices based on what the superpacs are telling them? Or are their minds already made up, they're simply waiting for the party to decide which name they should select at the poll?
Are we getting to be like the Romans? Maybe a lottery system would work better.
04-03-2014 07:51 PM
04-03-2014 07:53 PM