There has been a lot of angst over the post Citizens United world of “Super” Political Action Committees (PACs) that act as vehicles for Americans to unite with other Americans on common political beliefs. The rise of the Super PAC has led to a slew of advertisements, mostly negative in 2010 and 2012. Many still claim that this has hurt the national debate. They worry about corporations, millionaires and billionaires buying elections and undermining the political process.
The truth is, halfway into our second major political season, this flat out hasn’t happened.
Yes, more money is being spent.
Yes, the rich are doing most of that spending.
But, the American people have found themselves more informed on positions, campaign plans and voting records than ever before.
That’s not a bad thing.
Many democrats blamed Super PACs in large part, like Crossroads GPS, for their 2010 monumental losses. It is true that they played a major role in swinging the House to republicans. Conservative Super PAC’s on every political issue joined together to cut out vulnerable members of Congress. It worked, not because the money was spent deviously or because of any infringement on the democratic process, but because we had a class of center-left pols, representing center-right districts, voting in line with Nancy Pelosi. Most of these causalities were bound to occur, with or without increased spending.
The reason Super PAC’s succeeded in taking out so many representatives and senators, is because most of them were terrible. Representatives like Tom Perriello (D-VA) who is one district over from the author, took their wins for granted and fell in line with what the San Francisco speaker told them to do. Rural Virginia doesn’t have the same values as San Francisco. Super PAC’s didn’t tip the balance in that respect. Sure, Super PAC’s contributed to his defeat, but had Perriello taken votes that reflected his district, he wouldn’t have been so vulnerable.
Over the last four months we have seen the rise of the GOP presidential nominee super PACs. We’ve laid witness to the Romney Super PAC takedown of Gingrich in Iowa; the Gingrich takedown of Romney in South Carolina; and visa-versa again in Florida. Over the next ten days, we are going to watch Romney slash his way through Rick Santorum in Michigan and Nevada. That doesn’t necessarily benefit the GOP because Santorum is a better candidate than Romney. But Santorum won’t go down because of money. He’ll go down because of a career full of bad legislation and fringe sound bites.
The money has in large part come from big time donors. But the questions to ask are: has our speech been impaired? Has the democratic process been violated? If so, are the Super PAC’s to blame?
The answer to all three has been a resounding “no”.
More speech is a good thing. We expose these guys with brighter flashlights not less flashlights.
The more speech we have, the more we realize what terrible records both democrats and republicans have. The better look we get at Romney, the more we see his flip flops, the better look we get at Obama we see that he is one of the least transformative presidents in American history. Super PACs didn’t pay the author to say that, it is simply the facts.
The reason Gingrich, Romney and Santorum have been so affected by SUPER Pac ads? They all have terrible records. That is why the ads are working. Jim DeMint wouldn’t be taken down by Republican Super PACs because he has a good record that can withstand scrutiny.
In the age of internet, smart phones and the twenty-four hour news cycle, massive advertisements are going to be held accountable for mistruths. Seriously, it takes you MAYBE 100 seconds to locate the truth and that is ad B doesn’t follow ad A and rebuke it.
Even the most memorable mistruths of the right (see, “death panels”) and the left (see, Paul Ryan pushing a grandmother off of a cliff) didn’t start with Super PACs but with our own elected leaders. They have simply acted as an extension of what is already occurring.
America has the broadest free speech rights in the world. Modern America has, for decades, held the belief that MORE speech unleashes the truth and dispels lies better than less speech.
Both parties will run unprecedented advertisements during this election season. But we have seen nothing to indicate that these will act as the game changers. Gas prices, unemployment, GDP growth, all of the random “indexs” – these will be the measure of success for our President.
Before the rise of the Super PAC, republicans won big in 2004, only to lose badly in 2006. We are simply a fickle electorate. Whether each side runs five commercials or ten per hour, it won’t matter. Both parties will spent fortunes and it will even out.
Blaming corporations or the rich can certainly be terrifying. But is nothing more than a non-existent boogeyman. We need to blame all or our politicians collectively, for spending all of our money on keeping the poor, poor and fighting unfunded wars. On both sides of the aisle, these Super PACs have been successful at pulling back the curtain on all of our politicians. The electorate has benefited from it. We all have.