Citizens United and the subsequent campaign finance ruling, SpeechNow.org v Federal Election Commission, currently pose the greatest threat to our democracy. Citizens United struck down a century-old ban on corporate political spending, allowing corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money from their treasuries to influence our elections. The latter decision, SpeechNow.org v FEC, created Super PACs. The amount of money that a handful of people, such as the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson, can pour into our elections could take away our right to vote. There is no way the average American can compete for attention from our elected officials with these big-money interests, and unless these court rulings are reversed, a handful of very wealthy individuals in our country will have the ability to buy our elections.
Liberals need to shut up and stop criticizing President Obama for giving the nod to Democratic Super PACs. President Obama does not think these groups should have a role in our election. However, as long as they do exist, it is political suicide for any national candidate to shun them. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that President Barack Obama chose to embrace so-called “super PACs” (political action committees) for his re-election campaign so that billionaire philanthropists Charles H. Koch and David G. Koch would not decide the next President:
“The president made a decision, which I think was a wise one, that he was not going to unilaterally disarm and leave the field to the Koch brothers to decide who will be president of the United States and would control the Congress, and his commitment was for full disclosure.”President Obama is in complete agreement with the liberals who are unhappy about the role Super PACs have in our elections. To anyone who is angry at the President over his use of Super PACs, my question is this: What is worse: President Obama using a Super PAC in this election, or President Obama losing this election for taking the high road?
For the record, I stand side by side with those who think Super PACs have no business in our elections. These supposed non-profit groups are even more dangerous. It works like this. A wealthy individual, corporation, or even government can write a check to one of these non-profit organizations, such as Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, which can then spend up to half of that money on independent expenditures. They are required to spend the other half on “issue ads.” The problem with these groups is that they aren’t required to disclose their donors. As Sherrod Brown pointed out on Rachel Maddow recently, we have no idea where these groups are getting their money from. For all we know, China could very well be deciding which of our political parties is going to control the Senate next year.
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An even bigger problem with Super PACs is that they have essentially removed the individual contribution limit on our political campaigns. One man could, in effect, decide (in secret) who is elected to the US Senate, or even the White House. Don’t believe me? Newt Gingrich’s candidacy was kept alive in the Republican primary this year by one man: Sheldon Adelson. If Adelson (through himself and his family) had not given Gingrich’s Super PAC $10 million before South Carolina’s primary, Gingrich would have had to drop out of the race months before he actually did. The last polls taken before Adelson’s donation all had Gingrich down by double digits in South Carolina. Gingrich went on to trounce Mitt Romney by double digits. Sheldon Adelson bought the South Carolina primary.
Think it can’t happen on a national stage? Think again. No one’s net worth has increased more under the Obama Administration than Sheldon Adelson’s. Forbes estimates his net worth to be around $25 billion. He makes around $3.3 million an hour. The magazine points out:
“Adelson could personally fund an entire presidential campaign—say, $1 billion or so—and not even notice.”It is entirely possible for someone like Mr. Adelson to spend more money on this election than the Obama campaign, Romney campaign, and all of the liberal and conservative Super PACs combined. It is perfectly legal. What’s more: Adelson could spend that type of money without making any changes in his lifestyle.
Whatever your opinion may be about the constitutionality of allowing individuals to give unlimited amounts of money in our elections, or about the effect that this kind of spending has on our elections, we should all agree on one thing: the American people have the right to know where every dollar being spent in their elections is coming from.