Sunday, January 15, 2012

Gimme a Million, Five Over Here, Now Gimme Ten! Sold!

Well, hell, since the Supreme Court declared that dollar donations are free speech and that individuals and corporations can contribute as much as they like to the presidential candidates' coffers, we may as well just dispense with the hassle of elections and just have an auction.

In January of 2010, the Court sided in favor of a suit brought by Citizens United, declaring limits on campaign contributions unconstitutional....as long as the candidates did not coordinate with the contributors! Is your stomach hurting from laughing yet? That condition has turned out to be a monumental farce. Did the Supremes not see that coming? If they didn't they should have if they'd paid the slightest bit of attention to past experience and the creative ways politicians find to manipulate campaign laws.

Now all the candidates have their SuperPacs. For Mitt Romney, it is Restore Our Future. It is packed with former Romney staff members but Mitt winks and grins when he claims not to coordinate with them. A New York Times poll of November 30 showed Newt Gingrich ahead of Romney in Iowa by 14 points. Restore Our Future flooded the Iowa airwaves with anti-Newt ads, pouring $3 million into the state in the next 30 days. Surprise, surprise, Romney won the Iowa caucus.

Naturally, Newt has his own SuperPac, Winning Our Future (although it may be too little, too late). Rumor has it that billionaire Las Vegas casino mogul, Sheldon Adelson, is planning to donate $20 million to the GingrichPac (though Adelson denies it) to even the playing field. Reportedly, he's already shelled out $5 million for negative ads against Romney in South Carolina.

Of course, President Obama has a SuperPac too, which will get into high gear when the general election campaign starts. His Pac is Priorities USA Action. Don't you just love these names? They make you want to put your hand over your heart and recite the Pledge of Allegiance, don't they?

But, actually, that is the last thing they should make you feel like doing because corporations and meg-rich individuals being allowed to spend unlimited amounts of money to pimp their own candidate is anything but patriotic. You may as well give the Sheldon Adelsons of the country the opportunity to simply buy the Presidency.

In effect, that's what we're doing - determining the occupant of the White House by means of a bidding war. One in which the 99 percent need not apply to be part of the process with their little dibs and dabs of $5's or $10's or even $100's.

My guess is that our next president will be bought and paid for by the SuperPac that raises the most money.