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Political Spectrum, A View from the Left: This 2012 election funded by …

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January 20, 2012 by Richard Drake

The 2012 presidential election will be the first since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, allowing large organizations such as unions and corporations to contribute an unlimited amount of funds to promote candidates and issues. How do you think this will affect the outcome of the race?

I once wrote a short story about a fu- ture America in which people voted not for politicians, but rather the corporation they trusted they most to run the country.

It has been some months since Mitt Romney let loose with the fatuous retort at a campaign rally, “corporations are people, my friend,” but I doubt that the passage of time has softened his view. Sort of like manna from Heaven, in fact, was a political cartoon in this morning’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, featuring a Romney look-alike inscribing under the much fabled GOP commandment, “Thou Shalt Not Attack Another Republican,” with the words:

“Get your Super PAC (with secret cor- porate donors) to do it.”

While our attention may be drawn to Romney supporters skillful use of such attack ads, it should not be forgotten that most of the GOP crowd are also wading in these muddy waters — as will those on the Democratic party side this year.

In a recent interview with Keith Ol- bermann, Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi (one of America’s best political reporters) expressed the view that the elec- tion is all but lost for the American people due to the vast sums of money that will be poured into this campaign. PACs (Political Action Committees) and Super PACs supposedly work indepen- dently of the candidates they support. It sort of works like this:

Candidate X appears in an official campaign ad, either attacking Obama or trying to sound like Ronald Reagan,

talking about their vision for America. But PAC ads can throw as much mud as they like. Some of what they say will be true; some of what they say will be innuendo. And while those who donate to candidates must be revealed, those who donate to PACs can hide behind their muddy cloak of anonymity.

And who do candidates or elected of- ficials listen to the most? Those with the biggest checkbooks.

And what do they want in return? When I donate money to a candidate it is because he or she takes stands on positions I care about, and I hope they vote that way. But for corporate donors? What do they expect?

Those who benefit the most from corporate largesse when it comes to cam- paign funding — especially this year — are the ones who tell us there is no such thing as “class warfare” in this country.

AsmuchasIamaUnionMan(andIam one, to the very core of my being) I don’t want unions to be able to spend millions of dollars trying to influence my vote in this new, undemocratic way, either. The future promises us grinning men and women who tell us that corporations are on an equal footing with flesh-and-blood human beings, laughing politicians who become public handmaidens of the rich and powerful, while prattling on about “ individual liberty and freedom.”

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, only about half of the money raised by these PACS has been spent so far. It’s going to be an ugly year.

Click here to read Mike Landry’s response to the question

Richard Drake

Richard S. Drake has been writing about political and cultural affairs in Northwest Arkansas for 20 years. The author of Freedom Run a science fiction novel, he can also be followed on Facebook and Twitter. He can be contacted at: rsdrake@cox.net

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