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Super PAC spending degrades democracy

To the glee of many of his detractors, Karl Rove and the multimillionaires and billionaires who fattened his super PAC and nonprofit political arm had a horrible election night.

The return on investment was abysmal, or so the argument went, given that Mitt Romney lost, along with most Senate and House candidates backed by the bloated political action committees and tax-exempt “social welfare” corporations established by Rove and other consultants.

Schadenfreude is powerful. There is pleasure to be gained in reveling in the blunders of others who have such high opinions of themselves.

However, we who care about the political system all suffered wounds at the hands of super PACs, and not just those controlled by Republicans.

The tone of the attack ads coarsened the political discourse. The $6 billion raised and spent to control the White House and Congress had a corrosive impact on the U.S. system of government.

Billionaires assumed their money could buy the election. They failed, thankfully. But the record-shattering spending degraded democracy.

The 113th Congress should redouble efforts to require disclosure of hidden campaign money, although with the Senate controlled by Democrats and the House by Republicans, we hold out little hope for much change.

No act of Congress or of the Legislature will stop the corrosive flow of money into politics. But at least voters ought to know who is trying to sway their opinion as they decide how to vote.

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