Have we sold our democracy to the highest bidders? Absolutely. Do you care? That depends.
An analysis released this week by watchdog group Center for Public Integrity revealed that a small handful of mega-rich billionaires have been given disproportionate control over our political discourse. Of all super PAC donations this election season, data show, more than a third — $68 million out of a total $202 million — came from the top 10 contributors.
And here’s another little nugget of joy: Most of these most-wealthy donors happen to be fabulously conservative. Of the top 10 donors, seven were right-leaning individuals (six Republicans, one a libertarian giving to a Republican candidate), two were left-leaning unions, and one an obscure doctors co-op.
Contrary to impressions that the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling would usher in an era of unfettered free speech, what we’ve got here is a dramatic devaluing of ordinary speech. Necessarily, as this tiny slice of rich fellows spends vast millions to legally disseminate their right-wing beliefs, the thoughts of regular individuals suffer a sort of idea inflation:?The views of real working people are drowned beneath the onslaught of slick campaign materials. There’s no competing, unless, perhaps, you’re a union; but let’s be honest, you’re probably not.
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And just what have the fruits of this newfound freedom borne? Well, a whole lot of negativity, actually. According to a report from the Wesleyan Media Project, 70 percent of TV campaign ads so far this election season have been negative — up from a downright upbeat 9.1 percent in the 2008 campaign! Oh, the good old days, when men were men and secret Muslims knew how to keep their mouths shut.
Whether any of this bothers you will likely depend on your political affiliation. Do you care that money is poisoning the political process? Our guess: Not if your team is winning.
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