Forum Post: This coming Saturday, January 19, people across the country will rally to get Money Out / Voters In
Posted 10 months ago on Jan. 14, 2013, 3:57 p.m. EST by DKAtoday
from Coon Rapids, MN
This content is user submitted and not an official statement
From - Public Citizen.
Things are worse than we had reason to expect.
And they are on course to get far worse still.
I’m talking about the political landscape in this country since the U.S. Supreme Court’s horrendous Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling — which will be three years old one week from today.
But there’s this: The American people are in an uproar, and they are demanding fundamental reform.
We’ve made more progress to win a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United than was fathomable when we launched the campaign on that fateful day in January 2010, the day the court issued its disastrous decision.
The movement for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United — which has won 11 state resolutions calling for an amendment (with more around the corner), 350 city and town resolutions, support from 100+ members of Congress, and the endorsement of President Obama — is on the cusp of a breakthrough to an even higher plane.
This coming Saturday, January 19, people across the country will rally to get Money Out / Voters In — a marrying of the call for a constitutional amendment and money-and-politics reform with a demand for full voter enfranchisement and an end to voter suppression tactics.
The stakes could not be higher.
If our democracy doesn’t function, if Big Money can tighten even further its grip on our politics, it’s very tough to see winning on issues from preserving Social Security and Medicare to preventing catastrophic climate change, from implementing a fair tax system to defending consumer protections, and much more.
More than a few commentators misread the results of the 2012 election to conclude that concerns over spending by corporations and the super-wealthy were overblown.
In fact, if you look at what happened in 2012 and before that in 2010 — the two elections cycles since Citizens United — and what we can reasonably predict will occur going forward, you can’t help being deeply worried.
Big Money dominates elections. The price tag for the 2012 House, Senate and presidential races is estimated at a record $6 billion, by far the most expensive election our nation has ever seen. As noted by The New York Times, “In virtually every respect, the growth of unlimited fundraising and the move of outside groups to the mainstream of politics have magnified the already outsize role of money in political campaigns.”
Big Money matters more than ever. No serious person thinks money alone determines elections, but nor should anyone think it doesn’t matter. Two election cycles into the post-Citizens United era, we’re just beginning to see how much it matters.
In the 2010 midterm elections, 75 congressional seats switched from Democrat to Republican or vice versa. Outside groups, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Karl Rove’s Crossroads operations, spent more on the eventual winner in 4 out of 5 of those races. That’s not coincidence.
The Democrats — led by a president with unprecedented fundraising capacity — spent almost as much in 2012 as did the GOP and its outside backers (such as Karl Rove, Sheldon Adelson and the Koch Brothers). While Democrats prevailed in many Senate races and the presidency, we may never again see a presidential candidate from either party who can match Barack Obama’s base of small donors, so future candidates will be that much more beholden to outside spending in 2016 and beyond.
In a runaway election for the Democratic Party, outside funding from corporations and the very rich played a key role in keeping the U.S. House of Representatives in Republican control. Example: Republican David Rouzer defeated North Carolina Democratic incumbent Mike McIntyre. As reported by Politico, “Mike McIntyre’s first congressional race in 1996 cost $450,000. Then came the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision.” Nearly $9 million was spent on the race with Rouzer, “who, on his own, would lack the resources to compete vigorously across the sprawling district,” clearly benefiting from the outside cash.
Outside money kept the presidential race artificially close. “If groups like Crossroads were not active, this race could’ve been over a long time ago,” said Karl Rove on election night. Sure Rove was self-justifying — but he was also right.
Outside spending was vital to the Republican presidential primary. Donations from individual millionaires and billionaires animated the campaigns of Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, which otherwise would have collapsed earlier. And Mitt Romney’s super PAC, Restore Our Future, gave him the power to ultimately crush his primary opponents with negative ads.
The claim than super PACs are independent is a ruse. Public Citizen discovered that nearly 60 percent of super PACs active in the 2012 election cycle were devoted to supporting or defeating a single candidate. Many are founded, funded or managed by friends and political allies — or even family — of the candidate they support.
Records are being shattered. Citizens United enabled an array of outside groups to raise and spend money like never before. A Public Citizen report found that outside spending in top Senate races was 12 times greater in 2012 than in 2006.
Outside spending is overtaking the political parties. In two dozen close House races, outside groups spent almost as much as the parties.
The candidates themselves may not be able to keep up. As reported by Public Citizen, outside spending exceeded candidate spending in four of the 10 most expensive Senate races.
Outside spending shifts control from modestly accountable candidates and parties to unaccountable Dark Money entities and super PACs backed by corporations and the hyper-rich.
Outside money is mostly Dark Money. Nearly half of all spending by unrestricted outside groups to influence 2012’s top Senate races was spent by groups not required to disclose their donors. Almost none of the corporate money pouring into outside groups was disclosed.
Outside spending will continue to soar. Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson spent more than $100 million on the 2012 election, double what he spent in 2008. He says he’s ready to “double” his donations. “I’ll spend that much and more. Let’s cut any ambiguity.”
Money has a permanent chilling effect on office holders. Candidates backed by corporations and the wealthy are likely to carry the water for those benefactors. Even candidates who win despite running against Big Business know that the same entities will try to defeat them next time. Politicians know that they cannot afford to sidestep, much less actively challenge, corporate interests when it could mean being targeted by those with infinitely deep pockets. So much for “of the people, by the people, for the people.”
Outside groups will become increasingly effective. Expect to see the side that lost mimic the tactics of the side that won or develop new ways to spend their money. We may have hit the saturation point with TV ads, but outside groups are studying the Obama campaign’s voter management and mobilization strategy, and looking to emulate it going forward.
Campaign funders get to frame the issues. Politicians fearful of the fossil fuel industry barely uttered the words “climate change” this year. And wealthy donors have an outsized say in the issues their candidates highlight.
In the ever-escalating money arms race, politicians will be forced to raise even more cash to retain their seats. This means they will have even less time to govern amid all the kowtowing to the mega-rich required to build their campaign war chests. Constant fundraising keeps politicians even from talking to real people. Up until election week, Barack Obama had attended 221 fundraisers but only 101 campaign rallies. And, as The New York Times reported, “for long stretches of the summer and fall, Mr. Romney was so busy with fundraisers that he often did no more than one public event a day.”
Donation limits are becoming meaningless. Got money? Form a super PAC and you can spend as much as you want to get your favored candidate elected. There are barely any meaningful rules left in our campaign spending system.
Big Money inundates us with negative attack ads. Real debate is displaced by misleading, personal attacks. A Public Citizen report found that more than 85 percent of unregulated independent expenditures made by the 15 biggest outside groups in the 2012 election cycle financed negative messages — no surprise to any TV viewer in a swing state.
Beware the convergence of super PACs and lobbying. Trade associations and lobby groups like the National Association of Realtors and the American Bankers Association have set up super PACs. And super PACs are starting issue advertising campaigns. “Super PACs become lobbying force,” reads a recent USA Today headline. “I could see super PACs set up by industry sectors, or even by coalitions interested in a particular issue,” Rich Gold, a D.C. lawyer-lobbyist, told Roll Call. Moreover, the Dark Money groups funneling secret money into elections must lobby and engage in “public education” if they are to preserve their tax status and ability to funnel Dark Money. This means that those throwing around millions of dollars in election campaigns will directly be asking elected officials to support or oppose this or that measure. Saying no will come with obvious consequences.
Even the lobbying industry says Dark Money threatens democracy. As the outside groups start engaging in policy fights, and lobby groups start super PACs, here’s the reaction from Howard Marlowe, outgoing president of the American League of Lobbyists, as quoted in USA Today: “We already have a perception that our government is for sale. This is not a good development to have more political money thrown into the policymaking process.”
Citizens United reinforces oligarchy. As an industry, Wall Street has more money to throw around than any. Finance moguls topped the donation charts for Mitt Romney and represented almost a third of the top outside individual spenders. Although they largely bet on losers in 2012, they still have more power than they would if they had not spent anything. If you doubt the point, consider the prominent and shameful role of Wall Street executives in calling for cuts to Social Security and Medicare.
Outside spending is buying state governments. In contrast to the 2012 presidential election, state efforts by big-spending conservative groups “were strikingly successful,” reports The New York Times. “While Mr. Obama was winning onetime red states like Virginia and swing states like Michigan and Ohio, Republicans made large gains in state offices in many of the same battlegrounds.” Now Republicans have “one-party control in almost half the state capitals in the country.” Hence the incomprehensible specter of Michigan becoming a right-to-work state.
Whatever your reaction to the 2012 election, the trendlines for the functioning of our democracy are all going in the wrong direction.
Except, as I said above, one absolutely vital one: The movement to restore our democracy is zooming skyward.
We need even more people outraged, more people organized, more people writing letters to the editor, more people holding demonstrations, more people lobbying for state and local resolutions to overturn Citizens United, more people urging the Securities and Exchange Commission and other government agencies to take action, more initiatives in more states for public financing of elections, more encouragement for President Obama to press for an amendment and other reform measures, and more people demanding their members of Congress support an amendment.
Together, we’re going to make all those things happen.
Not by magic, but by hard work.
And to do that work, we need your financial support to pay organizers, communications specialists, researchers and lobbyists.
Please chip in $5 or whatever you can, right now.
Let’s mark the third anniversary of the worst Supreme Court decision in a generation by building the citizen power required to overturn it.
thumbnail photograph of Public Citizen president Robert WeissmanOnward, Robert Weissman's signature Robert Weissman President, Public Citizen
SEE ALSO :
In compliment : From People for the American Way.
Also - TWEETED In compliment.
On-going Efforts of Occupy | NationofChange http://www.nationofchange.org/going-efforts-occupy-1358007353 via @nationofchange FOOD4THOUGHT/ACTION - STAND-UP USA
Excellent - TWEETED :
Bill Moyers Essay: The ‘Crony Capitalist Blowout’ | NationofChange http://www.nationofchange.org/bill-moyers-essay-crony-capitalist-blowout-1358002477 via @nationofchange PEOPLE STAND-UP SPEAK-OUT
Great interview with Grayson - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UA7e3prLDzo