Corporations Don't Die
by David Bradley
Last week my wife’s favorite aunt died. She had lived a full and productive 91 years only to be done in by Alzheimer’s disease. While not an activist she was a supporter of Democrats. Her sister died two years earlier. The last time I saw her alive at a wedding, she hollered across a room at me “You beat them Republicans, Dave.”
As with most citizens they die and thus end whatever involvement in the political system that they ever had. Except of course if you are a corporation and the Supreme Court of the United States declares you a citizen. Corporations generally don’t die as other citizens do.
Whether a corporation is too young to vote such as Google (nee 1998) or well past a normal lifetime such as codgers Procter and Gamble at a ripe 173 years old or a spry General Electric at only 118 years old, corporations are having a huge impact on this election. Money, money and more money is their impact. Or ‘free speech’ as five Supreme Court justices call it.
Many predicted that they would hold their money until late in the game and then unleash it with a fury. And that is precisely what has happened. Money has come pouring in , especially on the Republican side. While there are still some prohibitions on giving directly to a candidate, there is almost no prohibition in giving to third party ‘issue’ groups. These are simply thinly veiled groups promoting one side or the other. Mostly one side in this election.
One of the big reasons to wait is to not tip the opposition to what your plan is. Another reason to wait is that in a busy election season less attention will be paid to the sudden influx of money. Plus there was the nasty little problem that a law was in the works that would force corporations to reveal who they gave money to. But that was dispensed with by the usual Republican obstruction. Now corporations can pour money in to the political system without fear of having to face public scrutiny. They can act without fear of public re-action. So nice for them.
Although one corporation has decided not to hide in the shadows. News Corp, owner of Fox News, the Wall Street Journal and other ”news” outlets, decided to give the Republican Party $1 million in the full light of day, thus ending their charade as an impartial mediator of news.
What does this mean for Iowa? Recall that for the campaign finance reporting periods in Iowa many of the republican candidates reported little and sometimes no contributions? Many folks were wondering what was going on. Their best guess was that there would be an October surprise and the chicanery was a set up to keep opposition (in this case the Democrats) from being able to estimate their money situation.
I believe Iowans can expect there to be an announcement of a PAC buying huge amounts of TV time for the Republicans in the next few days. Like it or not, TV advertising is the big difference in many races.
The experience we have with our new ‘citizens’ this election should give more than enough reasons that these changes must be reined in immediately. Unfortunately, their tactics may be successful enough that any campaign reform will be blocked permanently.
As for me, this is the best example ever of why we need publicly financed elections.
~Dave Bradley is a self-described
retired observer of American politics “trying to figure out how we got
so screwed up.” An
Iowa City native currently living in West Liberty, Dave and his wife
Carol have two grown children who “sadly had to leave the state to find
decent paying jobs.”
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