Citzens United may have already overstayed its welcome. After the first anniversary of this ruling, politicians are finding out how limitless, unlimited corporate contributions can be. When you want to control the figurehead of the corporate superpower, turns out a whole lot of money starts flowing. RawStory reports that $40 million has already been spent on negative campaigning against Obama, $30 million more has just been raised and quotes Obama’s campaign, “Meanwhile, Karl Rove, the Koch brothers and others have joined together to raise almost a half billion dollars, again for one singular purpose: to defeat the president in November”. Finally I think it is sinking in to some politicians how ridiculous these money piles are, especially when they buy nothing but vitriol and further division among our people. When our economy is in such a state, the glaring contrast between the glossed over slime of slick TV ads and the desperation for employment to cover basic needs is nauseating.
Since endorsing (giving his blessing to) the SuperPAC “Priorities USA“, Obama has gotten a lot of guff for reversing his position on using the SuperPACs. His campaign will vocally disapprove of them but in reality, encourage folks to contribute to the limitless “warchest” of corporate contribution. Obama is in a fix because principles are hard to stick by when the facts on the ground points to a pandora’s box of untold millions (billions?) ready to continue a negative campaign against him. This seemingly hypocritical stance makes him an easy target for haters, but even thoughtful allies have some harsh words for Obama (from the Huffingtonpost),
“It is a dumb approach,” Feingold said in a phone interview with The Huffington Post. “It will lead to scandal and there are going to be a lot of people having corrupt conversations about huge amounts of money that will one day regret that they went down the route of what is effectively a legalized Abramoff system.”
It is difficult to look squeaky clean when you are willing to get down in the muck with your detractors. The campaign has tried to set up some kind of veiled distinction between the first couple actually campaigning and what Priotities USA will actually be doing, it is about as convincing as the passing of the torch for a SuperPAC between Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart. (Who are lampooning the whole convoluted system – with real money and real candidacies and promises that they don’t know what they’re doing so they couldn’t possibly coordinated campaigns, even if they use each other’s staff.) What Obama is doing hurts him on the authenticity count, but I think most of his base realizes how nasty campaigns are and realizes that he is against a tsunami of negative campaigning.
So Obama, has said he will back a constitutional amendment that expressly revokes the rights of corporations as people. The president is always a good ally to have in such matters. Let’s hope the disgust at this campaign season will cause a groundswell of calls to create that amendment. The politicians, while they may not like this SupePAC “surprise” of unknown amounts of money from unknown donors waiting to take them down, at least they are familiar with this general system of money buying loyalty. If we don’t have a similar system, I honestly don’t believe most politicians would know how to act.
If this debacle of a decision doesn’t call for publicly funded elections, I don’t know what should. I am not sure how anyone equates buying influence with a good democracy. Multinational corporations with no “American” interest, no taxes paid, and often subsidized by our tax dollars, are allowed to run full on electioneering campaigns. There is no limit to their scope and reach. With publicly funded elections, our representative don’t have to spend their careers trying to get re-elected, they might actually focus on their job of making good decisions and getting informed. The election system could establish some public forums in which to vet potential candidates, the airwaves would not be clogged with superfluous vitriol, there would be a limit on spending. The hope is that since candidates would not be frantically outspending one another, they could once again return to the work of the people. I think this option is attractive to more than just Democratic politicians, but the unknown is frightening to politicians that have fared well in the current system. Of course this is another example of the “free market” “working” for “us”. Excuse the excessive use of quotes, but all three of those terms are relative – contested concepts.
The bigger question is this: do we like democracy or plutocracy? This country was established as a democratic republic, when you elect representatives that then hand ruling power over to a corporation, the ruling system changes into something else. Citizens United follows the thinking that whatever entity has the most money should be heard from the most, is the most important, and should be in charge of our politics. America, and her “free market” champions are caught up in an historically adolescent fantasy of bling. Romney has certainly cemented his positioning with his, “corporations are people my friend”, line; he is the quintessential opportunist capitalist. Let’s hope that Obama’s compromising position and nearly forced stance on a new amendment will re-invigorate the grassroots to clear up any confusion; corporations are not people in any way, shape, or form. Let’s get that in writing.