I have been hearing quite a bit about the disparity in fund raising for this year’s election between the Republican and Democratic parties. A continuing theme in these discussions is the role of Citizens United. This refers to a Supreme Court decision that ruled that independent corporations could not be limited by campaign finance laws limiting expenditures and donations.
In some ways this decision is consistent with other court rulings where in corporations are considered persons in terms of possessing the same fundamental right of due process. This legal fiction gives corporations the protection of law that individual citizens possess. Under this theory and the interpretation of its application by the Court, groups like Citizen United cannot have their free speech infringed upon and donating money is what speaks the loudest in presidential campaigning.
Because of this ruling, there is a new term being bandied about on the talking head channels, Dark Money. Of course the Democrats who are being out donated and out spent are up in arms, hence the moniker, Dark Money. They didn’t have any problems when their donors were piling it on. Nevertheless, I do think we have something to worry about.
Americans don’t read. In fact, as a nation, we probably devote more time to Jerry Springer than reading a newspaper whether on line or in print. So, TV is where we get convinced. Having the most money to spend on TV ads and campaigns is a decided advantage but that’s not the problem. Who is making sure that what is broadcast over the federal air waves is the truth. Should money give you the right to lie on a grand scale?
The benefit of one on one debates is that both candidates are there to defend themselves. Issue ads that attack an idea or campaign ads that attack a candidate are one sided, often vitriolic attacks. Made to smack the viewer in the heart of their emotion, TV ads create truth even where it does not exist. Just ask John McCain.
The trouble in partisan politics isn’t that you have two parties who fundamentally disagree with each other but rather, as displayed time and time again in Congress, you have two parties that would rather lose than let the other party win. The term statesman is nowhere to be found in Washington DC. So what’s a voter to do?
Well, earlier in the year I urged you all to vote for yourself. It still isn’t a bad idea. It would be great if enough politicians felt the wrath of the voter but they would have to care about us first. They don’t care about us only our $$$$. If you don’t have $$$$, you are SOL. Because politicians have to raise thousands of dollars a day, they have no time to listen to us. They may regret that they can’t listen to us but no one seems willing to risk losing an election in order to change the system.
We don’t have enough money to afford the Free Speech that our founding fathers provided us in the Bill of Rights.