The USATODAY editorial board has penned an interesting article on the heretofore unknown affects of big money in politics.
In a few short weeks voters will head to the polls to choose the individuals they want to lead the country over the next several years. According to USATODAY voters in many states will cast their votes without the benefit of watching the candidates engage in a live debate. Historically congressional and gubernatorial races featured at least one face to face debate between the candidates. Not anymore!
In 2010 the Supreme Court’s ruling on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission effectively allowed corporations, trade associations, non-profit organizations and well heeled bundlers to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into political campaigns. The money is most often used to produce slick radio and television ads that are typically geared toward attacking one’s opponent as opposed to articulating one’s vision and qualifications. Why risk embarrassing yourself in front of a live audience when you can bombard your opponent with half truths and innuendoes from the safety and comfort of your living room?
And it’s not just live debates that are that are going the way of the dinosaur.
Political operatives have understood that they can get their message out to far more voters by way of television and radio than they ever could out on the stump. Now, armed with bucket loads of cash, they can make that happen. Shaking hands and kissing babies is still an integral part of our politics. But it is far more effective economically and far safer politically to run the ads and hide behind the curtain.
I understand that the quality of the political debates that we have witnessed recently does not quite reach the level of Lincoln v. Douglas. I still cringe at the thought of the clown show put on by the Republicans as they winnowed their cast of cartoon characters down to Mitt Romney. But debates give us the only opportunity we have to see the candidates react under pressure without the benefit of retakes and edits.
Elections are no longer about pressing the flesh and expressing ones views. Today fund raising trumps governing because edgy attack ads supersede policy, vision and character.
I have said many times before that the Citizen United ruling would prove to be one of the most damaging decisions in the history of the Supreme Court.
Current events serve witness to that assertion.