I know I’m kind of harping on this, but I remain really upset and angry about the Citizens United decision, and it would appear I am not alone. Public Citizen and three other organizations have launched Free Speech for People, a campaign to fix the problem, constitutionally or otherwise. Even if you don’t feel like signing their petition or throwing some money at them, they’ve got a blog that I hope will be a good clearinghouse for news on the fight.
Uncle John has made the case that requiring full disclosure of corporate campaign spending would be a good compromise solution–that transparency would allow voters to simply turn away from candidates if they didn’t like where their money was coming from. I respect that opinion, but I really couldn’t disagree more.
We already have disclosure requirements that the decision didn’t affect, and they haven’t yet solved anything. Disclosure didn’t keep Max Baucus from getting the tiller on health care reform after taking four million dollars from the health care industry. It didn’t keep Mitch McConnell from taking three hundred thousand from coal and then, coincidentally, fighting to keep mine owners from having to measure mercury discharge. It’s already a shock when an entrenched politician manages to say a few stern words about a regressive, destructive industrial backer; actual voting that way is unheard of. Doesn’t that indicate our ingrained acceptance that our representatives’ ballots are already purchased?
About half the people who voted against Obama didn’t believe he was born in the United States. A quarter of those, in turn, believed that he was born in Hawaii, but that Hawaii was not a state. What does that mean? That people don’t vote on passive facts; they vote on what they hear and see. Money isn’t speech, it’s volume, and when you turn the volume up too high, it distorts.