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Posts Tagged ‘justice anthony kennedy’

“Favoritism and influence are not…avoidable in representative politics.” – Justice Anthony Kennedy

In the world of comic books, most “super” beings can be readily identified by their backstory: natural selection by a panel of other “super” beings, serendipitous contact with a foreign green fluid-like substance, outer space ancestry, or a certain affinity for dark eye shadow.

And in the real world things aren’t so different. 

In early January 2010, one year after the current president was sworn into office, a panel of nine Washington, D.C. – based supreme beings handed down a decision that gave way to the newest group of “super” beings in our democracy —the “super” donors. The panel—the Supreme Court, and the decision, was, of course, the controversial Citizens United case.  Until then, individuals could spend unlimited sums of money supporting or opposing their chosen candidate, but only directly.  Now, individuals who once could only give $5,000 to their chosen candidate’s political action committee (PAC), are now empowered to give unlimited sums to Super PACs at their own discretion anonymously

To some, this new campaign reality has been a godsend, but to many others it is a step even further in the wrong direction for our democratic republic. In an article, by Lawrence Lessig, entitled Democracy After Citizens United, he states, “the framers did not intend to make representatives dependent upon contributors…representatives were to be dependent upon voters, or, more generally, the People alone.”  With the ever growing influence of money in politics, super donors are elevated to exert a level of influence over the electorate that hasn’t been seen since its founding.  In a way, Businessman Foster Friess becomes John Adams; Casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson is Benjamin Franklin; Paypal founder Peter Thiel is Alexander Hamilton; and PACs such as Mitt Romney’s and Newt Gingrich’s Restore Our Future and Winning Our Future Super PACs can stand to replace the entire Republican Party.

The Center for Responsive Politics, an organization that tracks all kinds of campaign finance and lobbying numbers has recently reported that since Citizens United, the amount of outside money spent in federal elections has grown an alarming 234 % since 2008. At this point in time, during the 2008 presidential campaign only $37.5 million had been raised by PACs, but today a whopping $88 million has already been spent in PAC money.

Today, when citizens of all stripes clamor for a more responsive and flexible government, one that seats all of us at the leadership table they’ll have to keep waiting.  Unfortunately, until the “super” in super donor is no more, very few of our votes will matter much at all.  So until the Supreme Court’s decision is reversed, I’ll gladly take a shot of green fluid to go.

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