I don’t believe there will be any dispute when I say that our political system in this country has changed drastically over the years. We have come from a time in decades past when office seekers actually had personal contacts with the voters during their campaigns. Presidential candidates – before the advent of costly television ads – actually went out to the people and sought their votes. There were even train tours by Presidential candidates with scheduled whistle stops around the country. But those days are long gone. When television took over during the early 1960s, followed by the internet, the American political scene changed forever.
Big money from the giants in Corporate America quickly became the driving force in U.S. politics. We now are witnessing the most expensive political races ever with no real end in sight. A few multi-billionaires have become the main players in the financing of political campaigns through the use of SuperPACs and groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
For example, during last year’s election, Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS spent more than $70 million to influence our votes. The Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity spent more than $39 million. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce threw in more than $36 million. That’s a total of $159 million just from these three sources.
Unlike super PACs, the dark money groups are not required to disclose the identities of the corporations and super-rich donors that paid for the misleading ads they ran. Fortunately, the Securities and Exchange Commission has responded to the public’s demands for corporate accountability. A proposed rule requiring publicly traded corporations to disclose their political contributions is now on the SEC’s official agenda. Hopefully, it will be adopted.
As we all know, last year’s Presidential race was won by President Barack Obama and he received far more small-dollar donations and less support from corporations and billionaires than his Republican opponent. In my opinion, that was good for America. While the President survived, the problems are still with us. Left unchallenged, dark money groups will only grow stronger. Even though the 2012 election is over, these corporate propaganda machines have shown no sign of stopping or even slowing down. Crossroads GPS, for instance, blasted airwaves across the country throughout last month’s “fiscal cliff” negotiations with its propaganda. Much of what was said was untrue and largely unchallenged.
Corporate shareholders and consumers must be able to hold the corporations behind dark money groups’ misleading attacks accountable. Transparency in corporate political spending is critically important for the welfare of ordinary folks. They deserve to know where the money that fuels our political system is coming from and how much is being spent. Congress must get involved and help bring some sanity to our nation’s political system. I believe that an overwhelming majority of U.S. citizens agree that Congress must take the necessary action needed to solve the problem.
Source: Public Citizen
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