THE SITUATION: And here we go! The big one.
If there is one single thing about this election that has redeemed my faith in mankind, it is simply this: you can not sway opinions with money.
Two years ago I didn’t think so. After the Citizens United ruling I think everyone in America, except maybe a few greedy oligarchs, was disappointed. The nominal rules we had set in place to prevent corporations from buying our elected leaders had once seemed so loose, that even John McCain had attempted to reform them, way back in 2000, with (gasp!) his friend from across the aisle Russ Feingold. Campaign finance had always seemed something to clamp down on, and with the swish of a pen, the Supreme Court had suddenly just opened up the floodgates.
Republicans, I suspect, were elated, because they believed that they could finally offset their recruiting disadvantage with a financial advantage. And in the 2010 midterm elections, it worked like a charm, or at least seemed to. In a wave election, the Republicans swept into control of the House, seemingly because of all that dirty money they were finally getting legally.
In retrospect now, it seems much more likely that Republicans won the House because of the president’s staggeringly bad timing in passing the Affordable Care Act. With reservations, I’m in favor of it, but I can’t imagine any dumber time to attempt to pass it than 2009. Imagine if he had used his near infinite reserves of political capital back then to pass a jobs act, or to balance the budget, or God knows what else. Probably, Democrats would have stayed in power in 2010 and he would have had plenty of time to pass the ACA while sitting on a big pile of adulating op-ed pieces for saving the economy.
Instead, Obamacare sunk the Democratic majority in congress, except that everyone thought it was because of Citizens United. It seemed ominous that Democrats, with their considerable advantage in the ground game in 2008, just couldn’t fight against unlimited Republican funding in 2010. Things did not bode well for 2012 when Republicans had amassed 2 billion dollars to spend.
And they lost! I think it’s stupendous. As I’ve been saying this whole article, it will take a long time for conservatives to stop feeling the sting of their loss and be able to look at this year’s election objectively, but come on. Did you really want the biggest fundraiser to always be able to win the election? Did you really want to believe that the American electorate is so dumb it will be swayed by commercials and bumper stickers and yard signs?
Don’t you want to be elected on the basis of being better anyway? Don’t you want America to be a meritocracy and not a place where the wealthy just buy whatever position they want? If conservatism really is better as a set of ideas than liberalism, then conservatives should be delighted that the American people won’t be swayed by money into believing something false.
WHY IS THIS BETTER FOR THE NATION: For one thing, the corporations got caught with their hand in the cookie jar. They rightfully gave Stephen Colbert an emmy for being seemingly the only person reporting on Super PACs for a very long time. Not everyone knows what a Super PAC is and what it does. Whenever I see a commercial on TV that isn’t approved by the candidate, I know why. Because Papa Johns or Sands Casinos or someone was the one that wanted me to see this. Maybe it’s my own stupid bias, but I completely ignore Super PAC commercials.
And for another thing, it seems like when they did stick their hands in the cookie jar, the corporations found a mousetrap. Six billion dollars in spending to achieve the status quo? I’m not saying corporations will never attempt to fund an election again, or even attempt to steal one, but I think that most wealthy people are going to be severely reticent to donate to Super PACs again after this one.
And in another, weirder way, it could all have been for the best because by exposing how cynical politicians are about money, we may have paved the way for real campaign finance reform. If, as the Supreme Court said, unlimited campaign finance is legal, and now everyone knows how corrupt and fucked up it is, there will be a movement to make it illegal. People talk now about overturning Citizens United, but I think the real solution will be legislative. And we have the political will to do it now.
(If you got here by mistake, the main article is here.)
"Manuscripts don't burn"
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Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."
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