In this first presidential campaign since Citizens United, I wonder if any advocates of that decision—a group that would include pretty much the entire GOP—would say that as a result, we have better, more democratic campaigns. Is there anyone willing to stand up and say that superPACs are a healthy thing? Well, it appears the Republican party is now saying we should just give up the charade and let corporations buy candidates directly already:
The century-old ban on corporate donations to federal political campaigns should be junked as unconstitutional, the Republican National Committee argued in a legal brief filed Tuesday that could lead to new attacks on the GOP as beholden to corporate money.
The GOP brief filed with a federal appeals court contends that the ban which became law back in 1908 violates the First Amendment in light of recent Supreme Court rulings, including the 2010 Citizens United decision which allowed unlimited donations to independent-expenditure groups.
On a certain level, they have a point, one I would extend to the current distinction between a candidate's campaign and a superPAC supporting him. In both cases, the goal of the restriction is to forestall corruption. If a corporation or a wealthy individual can just bankroll your whole campaign, you'll be indebted to them to a degree that could compromise the way you do the people's business. But the current system draws lines of distinction that are meaningless. As it is now, Newt Gingrich is not allowed to call up his good buddy Sheldon Adelson and say, "Shelster, do me a solid and write a $5 million check to 'Newt 2012,' my presidential campaign." But it is perfectly legal for him to call up his good buddy Sheldon Adelson and say, "Shelster, do me a solid and write a $5 million check to 'Winning Our Future,' the superPAC trying to help me get elected president." Similarly, VaderCorp can make donations to Winning Our Future, but not to Newt 2012. This is plainly ridiculous. Either it's corrupting or it isn't, and which entity gets the donation doesn't make a difference.
I happen to think that Sheldon Adelson shouldn't be able to give any candidate $5 million, no matter which account the check goes into, nor should VaderCorp be able to donate to candidates at all (and don't start in with the "Death Star construction creates jobs!" baloney). But the Supreme Court disagrees. I don't know anything about this particular case, but it seems a fair bet that unless the makeup of the Court changes, they're likely to keep slashing away at the pitiful campaign finance regulations still in place, until corporations and casino moguls can give directly to candidates in whatever quantities they like. And then freedom will truly reign. Or something like that.