Citizens United Defenders Latest Tact: 2012 Spending Is Too Frugal
Like a preacher who know his conclusion and cites chapter and verse to 'make' his point, the defenders of the controversial U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Citizens United, which unleashed the super PACs dominating 2012's political messaging thus far, have a new refrain: contrary to popular (and liberals' ) belief, there isn't enough money being spent in this year's presidential nominating contests.
Jim Bopp, the activist Republican attorney who led the legal fight that brought the Citizens United case to the U.S. Supreme Court, was quick to point to a new Washington Post story on an election law list serve today that compared the amount of money spend in the 2012 nominating contests with 2008 and earlier years and found 2012 was coming up short. Less money spent means less of a problem, he suggests, smacking at his critics.
This is a factually correct but contextually vacant comparison.Yes, it is probably true that the 2012 campaign has thus far cost less than previous years. Part of that is because the nation at large, except for the top 5 percent of the country, have been in the economic doldrums, shrinking the dollars given to top political races. And face it, the Hillary Clinton v. Barack Obama fight of four years ago was more epic and costly than the current GOP contest.
So, if anything, 2012's comparative lack of widespread political giving has made it more of a bargain for the handful of super PAC backers to have an impact with a few million spent here (for Gingrich) and spent there (for Santorum) or spent everywhere for Romney. Thus Citizens Unitedhas enabled a fewer wealthier people to turn the GOP contest into their own version of a political monopoly game, with the country waits and watches.
But waiting and watching a wealthy few drive the process is not what most Americans expect their democracy to look like.