Should money control the ballot box?
August 29, 2012
Do you believe money influences the outcome of political races?
On January 21, 2010, the United States Supreme Court issued its opinion in the Citizens United case. (Click here to read the decision.) The long and short of it is that as a result of this decision there is no limit on the amount of money super PACs can contribute to elections.
The current United States national elections are the first since Citizens United became the law of the land. As such, it is the election cycle that will set the tone for future elections.
We tend to think of the impact of this development as it applies to the American presidential race. But, the truth is that Citizens United’s reach is much broader than that. Tight congressional races will be decided by which candidate has the money to saturate his district with attack ads against his opponent. It’s as simple as that. Negative campaigning is the thing now because it works. But it doesn’t work without the money to buy the commercials.
Some people think that if the national presidential election campaign turns out to be nasty enough there will be a black lash that might pave the way for meaningful campaign reform.
I doubt it. Regardless of what happens in the presidential race, Congress will be populated by people who got there by spending piles of money they received from Super PACs.
They won’t bite the hands that fed them. They will dance with them who brung ‘em.
I have seen polls that show that public confidence in elected officials is at an all-time low in the United States. That confidence will slide even lower if the new crop of congresspeople and senators prove to be nothing but shills for the moneyed people who bought their elections for them.
The common, working-class people of the United States understand that money talks. That is true regardless of whether the race is local, state-wide or national. It is true whether the official is a county commissioner, a state judge or the president of the country.
So why can’t we fix the problem of money in politics?
The answer is simple. The problem can be fixed, but only if the people want it fixed. Until there is an outcry from millions of voters who are tired of being told how to vote by well-financed marketing campaigns, nothing will change.
On November 6, 2012, voters in the United States will cast their ballots for people who have received millions of dollars from anonymous donors. When they get to Washington, they will have those donors on their speed dial, and they won’t return calls to their constituents.
It will be the best government money can buy.
Is that really what the people of the United States want?