The super-PACs are taking over elections
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
Two years ago this month, the U.S. Supreme Court, in its infinitesimal wisdom, perverted the Constitution by declaring that inanimate corporations acquire “personhood” at the instant of inception, empowering them to give unlimited amounts of money to political action committees, which are now called super-PACS because of the bloated size they have achieved.
To convey an image of fair-handedness, the Supreme Court gave unions the same right, but this is clearly a sham because the assets of unions are insignificant compared to corporate wealth.
It seems that it is of no significance that corporations are only a legal construct without vocal chords. The Supreme Court has fabricated a political voice for these paper entities by declaring that money is their speech.
The only restriction on the political largess granted by the Supreme Court is that these massive donations cannot be given directly to political candidates, but only to the super-PACs, which are not supposed to be associated with any candidate’s campaign committee.
This is a big joke, because typically those running the super-PACs are former members (or frequently have been the managers) of the campaign committees of the candidates the super-PACs are serving.
It is also laughable that the Supreme Court has attempted to justify its decision, which overturned nearly two centuries of precedent seeking to keep corporate money out of the election process, by claiming that it was merely broadening the right to freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment.
The caucuses in Iowa (population 3 million) have given us a preview of the impact of this Supreme Court decision on the political process. More than $12 million dollars was spent on campaign ads, the vast majority of which were negative TV attacks on other candidates.
A super-PAC supporting Mitt Romney unleashed a $4 million ad barrage against Newt Gingrich, effectively knocking him out of the contest. In New Hampshire (population 1.3 million) the Romney super-PAC alone spent $2 million. And in South Carolina, the super-PACs rushed in to buy up all the TV time that was available.
If super-PACs continue to spend proportionately on all the rest of the primary races, the total just for the primary process could well exceed $1 billion.
What is more frightening is the power that has been given to super-PACs. It threatens to destroy the legitimacy of the upcoming Nov. 6 general election.
With unlimited corporate money, augmented by additional millions of dollars from the wealthy (who also can donate unlimited amounts to super-PACs), these moneyed interests can buy candidates who will be subservient to their interests. Super-PACs can saturate the airwaves with ads supporting their preferred candidate, and bury with scurrilous defamatory TV attack ads any candidate who has the audacity to stand up for the interests of the people.
The super-PAC funds the dirty work of these attack ads, while the candidate absolves himself by claiming he has nothing to do with the super-PAC or what it puts out. If you believe that, I have a bridge …
Our election process is predicated on an informed electorate. But in today’s instant communication era of television, the Internet, YouTube and Twitter, way too many voters rely on those media as their only sources of information. They just don’t take the time to seek unbiased news sources to find out the facts. So do we any longer have the informed electorate essential to the validity of our elections?
Our government of the people, by the people, for the people is in danger of becoming a government of the moneyed, by the moneyed, for the moneyed.
It appears that the only way to overcome the Supreme Court’s ill-advised decision that is responsible for this threat is to amend the Constitution.
Article V of the Constitution reads “The Congress, whenever two-thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two-thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which in either Case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three-fourths of the several States ….”
A movement in this direction has been started by Public Citizen, and been joined by several other civil liberties organizations. Resolutions supporting a constitutional amendment have been introduced in 10 states, and requirements relating to corporate contributions have been proposed or passed in another 12 states. To learn more about this movement, visit Public Citizen at http://www.citizen.org.
“As I See It” appears on the first and third Thursdays of the month. Hal Sundin lives in Glenwood Springs and is a retired environmental and structural engineer. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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