Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Super PACs

Dear Madame L,

I was just reading in a weekly news magazine that Mitt Romney's super PAC raised more than six million dollars in January, and that the Republicans have raised more than $500 million for various super PACs for their candidates. 

And I know that these super PACs can keep their donors' names secret, receive unlimited amounts from donors, and spend the money any way they want to. 

I thought it was interesting because one of my conservative friends is always hinting darkly that Pres. Obama is raising more money than the Republican presidential candidates, and that if he's re-elected, it will only be because of all the campaign money he has raised.

Please, Madame L, what ever happened to our electoral system, if votes can be bought by these rich people while people like me, with our $25 here and $15 there for the causes we support, essentially are left without a voice?


Feeling Disenfranchised

Dear Disenfranchised,

Madame L doesn't know if it will ease your fears to know that Pres. Obama has given up and decided to let super PACs help raise money for his re-election  campaign, or if it will just make you feel more cynical.

It makes Madame L feel very conflicted, between grateful to know that Pres. Obama may now stand a chance of being re-elected, and more cynical that he would have to stoop to this level to do it.

There's nothing that can be done about this dilemma immediately---the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision in 2010 that paved the way for the existence of these fund-raising organizations cannot be changed except by future legislation. Madame L is aware of some online petitions that ordinary people can sign, but she hasn't signed one herself because they would require her to disclose private information that then may become available to the public and because some of the petitions appear to be no more than marketing tools and even scams.

Madame L notes also that conservative publications are trying to justify the idea of super PACs, as in this  article which claims they're really "good for democracy" because they "increase transparency" (not true), "level the playing field" (absoLUTEly not true), inform voters (an out-and-out LIE), and "inform the voters" (PANTS ON FIRE). 

Madame L hopes you've kept track of Stephen Colbert's hilarious and right-on-point super PAC, "Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow." The ad video Madame L posted above gives you an idea of Colbert's attempt to show through satire just how wrong the Supreme Court's decision was and how detrimental to the democratic political process these super PACs are. 

As always, Madame L urges you to become involved in local politics and to vote, because political office-holders are the ones who will eventually lead us to having a Supreme Court that isn't dominated by reactionary political activists. 

Best wishes,

Madame L

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