Sign up for email alerts, from breaking news to weekly commentary:
The corporate purchase of America's political discourse
When five Supreme Court justices decreed that corporations are entitled to full free speech rights in our elections and that corporate money is a form of speech that cannot be restricted, they produced a nightmare tsunami of corporate cash that is now drowning our People's democratic rights. After all, if money is speech, then speech is no longer free – it's for sale.
This year, we're seeing what the Court's absurd edict is costing us. First, the corporate purchase of political speech has in fact reached tsunamic force in the current Congressional races. Spending on TV ads will likely top $2 billion, 70 percent higher than four years ago, when the Court issued its Citizens United money ruling.
Second, the bulk of this speech is not being bought by candidates or parties, but by secretive outside front groups that hide the corporate interests funding the ads. In Senate races alone, these shadow groups have already run some 150,000 TV spots. The Koch brothers' main front group, Americans for Prosperity, is by far the biggest buyer of speech, having laid out $44 million on Congressional races in just the first six months of this election year.
Third, and most pernicious, the court-created "right" of moneyed front groups to flood the airwaves has handed them the power to dictate any campaign's message. The ads of those secret fronts now define the issues and even the candidates themselves before the race really gets going. Worse, because the outside groups are anonymous, their "speech" consists almost entirely of the nastiest, most vituperative attacks on candidates they oppose, turning our election-year discourse into toxic slimefests that turn off voters and shrivel turnout.
To help stop the corporate purchase of the People's political speech rights, connect with www.MoveToAmend.org.
"Outside Money Drives A Deluge Of Political Ads," The New York Times, July 28, 2014.