There’s been a lot of complaints this election cycle about the undue influence corporations have after the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. But what people have not been doing is looking at the facts. What’s been actually happening is the new political landscape is more open and more valuable to American democracy than ever before.
A person doesn’t have to look any further than the Republican presidential primary to see the truth of the matter. Historically, Republican presidential primaries have been rather dry with an establishment candidate wrestling other ideological contenders early in the process but wrapping it up the nomination fairly quickly. In this pattern, South Carolina has correctly picked every Republican candidate since 1980 and its only the third primary in the race!
But this year is different. So far we have had three primary races and three winners. Mitt Romney who nominally is the establishment candidate and was widely expected to win is not the inevitable nominee anymore. Newt Gingrich could easily take the nomination now over the vehement protests of the establishment. And who do we have to thank for this new, more open political scenario? The Super PAC.
Now there is the argument that perhaps what these Super PACs are doing is making politics too open. They are making it possible so that candidates can be captured by special interests with their new power. But even here, all we have to do is to look at what’s happening in Massachusetts. Just last week, Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren have agreed to keep Super PACs out of the race so they could be the ones speaking to their constituents. This is bipartisan coordination at its finest by two distinctly different candidates.
This method of self restraint isn’t a rare act either. Just look back to 2008. Then Senator Barack Obama swore off any donation from PACs and any money from lobbyists. This sort of self-discipline is something that marks the new world of campaign finance and is not just an aberration.
The fact of the matter is that campaign finance rules are some of the worst forms of government regulation. They get in the way and make people jump through all sorts of hoops just to campaign. Credit must be given to Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart who have done an incredible job of showing just how insane our system is! Rather than viewing money in politics as a corrupting influence, look around and see how we are entering a new and better age of political campaigns.
TL;DR – Money in politics isn’t all it’s made out to be. It can actually open up American politics.
Magnus Magnussen is a contributing author to PMJ blog.