The GOP is hip-boot deep in its convention propaganda in Tampa, Florida this week, basking in the media attention which has been only slightly diverted by Hurricane Isaac’s slamming into the Louisiana coast near New Orleans on the seventh anniversary to the day of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The convention actually shortened its first business day from 8 hours to 2 minutes on Monday, August 27th because of the storm. Evidently, they were worried that if they recessed at 10pm instead of 2:20pm like they did, the after-convention party-go’ers might get wet…or blown away. 🙂
What kind of idiot plans a convention in Tampa, which sits on Florida’s west coast and the Gulf of Mexico, which is “Hurricane Central” at this time of year, anyway?? The answer is the GOP, which realized that Florida is the most “swing” state in the USA, and the convention center is in the most “swing” county in Florida, hoping to swing the undecideds their way.
Not every undecided voter is so stupid that he’s/she’s going to be swayed the GOP’s chosen location, but some may be. And it’s those “some” that the GOP is hoping to sway their way with luster, lies, limericks, and money….gobs of money.
Mitt Romney is a wealthy businessman who has promised to reduce the tax and regulation burden for all wealthy businessmen…people who have more money stashed in secret offshore accounts than most middle class people make in a lifetime. They can afford to donate millions of dollars…in fact HUNDREDS of millions of dollars…to the candidates that promise to help them make even MORE millions of dollars.
These megalo-wealthy folks can do that in two ways. The first way is through donations to individual candidates up to $2500 per person in a calendar year, as regulated by the US Federal Election Commission (FEC) . There are also other limits depending upon who is donating and who is receiving, but in any combination, the contribution cannot exceed $117,000, or $46,200 to all candidates plus $70,800 to all political action committees (PACs} and/or parties combined.
Although the monetary limits seem a bit high to most middle-class voters, these regulations were designed to guard against lopsided contributions from a conglomeration of special interests buying off an election. These regulations worked reasonably well until a conservative organization named Citizens United challenged the law. In 2010, the US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Citizen United’s favor that corporations and unions had a first amendment right to freedom of speech and that limiting their abilities to make political contributions was a first amendment violation.
That decision gave rise to super-secret Super PACS, which may engage in unlimited political spending independently of the actual candidate campaigns. .They can also raise funds from corporations, unions and other groups, and from individuals, without legal limits. They need not report their contributors, and can spend the unlimited amount of money received in ads and messages designed to assassinate the character, reputation and political career of any political candidate they chose.
Though they are to be independent of candidate campaigns, it is clear that anyone can talk to anyone about anything, as long as it’s not an official “joint meeting”. (nod, nod, wink, wink).
The super-duper-wealthy can now buy an election free from annoying government oversight. And man, are they buying. They are making the FEC maximum reportable contributions to the Romney campaign, which has out-raised the grassroots contributions of the Obama campaign for three months in a row. And now they are also able to donate as much as they want to the conservative anti-Obama super-pacs, remaining completely anonymous (and unaccountable) as they do.
To be sure, their are pro-Obama super-pacs as well, but they don’t attract these wealthiest 1% of political contributors. Instead, middle-class grass-roots voters and union contribute to them, and here is no way they can match the extreme wealth and contributions of the 1%.
The conservative multi-billionaire Koch brothers are worth approximately USD $50 billion. They’re reportedly going to contribute up to USD $100 million to help Romney and the republicans win in November. Without the Citizens United decision, they would not be able to contribute more than USD $117, 000…at least legally.
To make matters even more unsavory, political dirt-crawlers like Carl Rove are organizing and running those conservative super-pacs. These people are known for their use of dirty tricks and smear campaigns. So they’ll be creating and airing dirt-wrapped political ads to win their way. Truth has no role to play here.
If the American voter was bright enough and/or diligent enough to do his or her own research into what is and isn’t true, and if they took the time to fact-check, these super-pacs would lose their influence. But many people just listen to the voice yelling the loudest, longest, and most often. Scary.
Remember when “He with the most votes wins”? It’s been warped by Citizens United to
“He who buys the most TV ads wins”.