Don’t think for an instant that just because the big moneyed GOP didn’t sweep the Senate and White House, that Citizen’s United didn’t change this election. With over $6 billion spent, much of it in secret, the rich are already claiming that this election (against the Big Bad Socialists) vindicates their philosophy. Although when your thinking is based on confirmation bias and intellectual dishonesty, basically everything vindicates you, no matter which way it goes. Al Franken and others are proposing constitutional amendments to overturn Citizen’s United, and others are still analyzing the damage done in House races and local Propositions. 11 states now support such measures, but still have outside spending to contend with.
Political science professor Thomas Ferguson is another critic of influence-peddling through poorly regulated campaign finance. He goes on to describe the corrupting effects of lobbying, ‘revolving door’ politicians, and the relationship of the financial industry.
So there are enormous sums of money that plainly overwhelm the influence of voters on nearly everything. There’s just been a study by Martin Gilens, a politics professor at Princeton University, that shows that upper-income public opinion predicts policy outcomes pretty well, but there’s absolutely no impact for middle-class and lower-class voters’ public opinion. If they disagree with the rich, they can’t get anything. I do think that result is historically conditioned, though. So if you get a popular movement, you get results. I mean, the New Deal did happen. But in a situation like you’ve got right now, political parties are basically bank accounts. This argument used to be received with skepticism. Now, everybody’s getting it from the Super PAC phenomenon.
They effectively allow folks to go outside the party system and just spend as much as they want. And the numbers are staggering. They are just in the hundreds of millions. It seems pretty plain to me that Romney, for example, largely bought the Republican nomination with those Super PACs. You could see that in the primaries, when he went into a state down 8 or 9 points then spent $200 to $300 million in Super PAC money, and then he usually steals the lead from whoever he’s running against—Santorum, Gingrich. He didn’t win them all, but most. That was a money story. When you get to the general election, the Democrats have a lot of money too. So what you get is two money blocs and a fair amount of common ground between the two candidates.
It’s an oligopoly in its strongest form, but that’s not the way this problem is being presented.
For more of his choice words; especially how similar Democrats and Republicans are on these issues of money and corruption, read the whole interview here.
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