For a long time I felt so strongly about the need to reform campaign spending that I refused to give money to any candidate. I believed there was too much money in politics, and that it didn’t matter if I sent money to anyone. That was probably naïve. Campaigns do need money to run—they need money to print informational brochures, and to advertise in order to get their message out to voters. The best way for candidates to get money is from the people that they will be representing.
When Obama came along, I was ready to try a different tactic, and I gave everything that I could afford to his candidacy. It probably still wasn’t enough to make much of a difference. I know people who gave a lot more, and they ended up getting hand-signed Christmas cards from him. I didn’t rise to that level by a long shot, but it felt good to be contributing to something in which I believed. Even so, that was a hard campaign for me because I had waited my whole life to vote for a woman, but found that I could not support Hillary Clinton in the primaries because she was too hawkish for my taste.
And then along came Citizen’s United. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that money is the equivalent of speech and that corporations are the equivalent of people. What we’ve seen ever since is boatloads of money being funneled into the political system. Oddly most corporations, absent the oil and gas and banking industries, are avoiding contributing directly to candidates. That’s probably because campaign finance laws make public any donation to a candidate. Donations to 527’s however don’t have the same transparency.
What the Citizen’s United ruling unleashed is billionaire’s cash. According to Bill Moyers and Michael Winship in an article written just this week (linked below), “Since 1979, 377 members of the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans have given almost half a billion dollars to candidates of both parties, most of it in the last decade. “ What these billionaires want is fewer consumer regulations and lower tax rates. The idea of doing what is right for the nation is completely foreign. It is all about “investing” in a politician with the belief that the “investment” will pay off in favorable votes on policy issues.
I know that American Patriot wasn’t thinking about the money going into presidential campaigns as much as he was thinking about the money going into the pockets of local politicians. Same story, different scale. People with money always want to use that money for their own advantage. If buying a politician or two gives them an advantage over ordinary citizens, so be it. After all, it is their due. Isn’t it?
For the record: I would like to see an end to corporations lobbying. I would like to see all campaigns publicly financed. Absent public financing, I would like to see all donors to campaigns and 527’s be public information so that voters would know who is buying whom. I would like to see a return to the “fairness doctrine,” expanding it to include cable, as well as broadcast channels of both TV and Radio. I would like to see campaigns limited to the six month period before elections. I would like to squeeze as much money out of elections as can be squeezed out without making it impossible for candidates to tell their story. I would like to see fines imposed by the FCC on campaign ads that stray from fact and rely on innuendo. I would like to see Citizen’s United revisited by the Supreme Court given that it is destroying democracy. I would like to see more than two major parties, so that laws can only be passed when there are coalitions and compromise. I would like to see all politicians working to improve the lives of ordinary citizens instead of working at raising enough money to win the next election for themselves.
American Patriot, I don’t like the idea of special interests controlling our government. I don’t think you do either.
Pity the Poor Billionaires
Everything You Never Wanted to Know About 527 Groups