Top spenders not necessarily best candidates

Andrew Justus

The next presidential race is fixing to be the most highly-funded presidential contest in history.
With lax rules after the “Citizen’s United” case last year and an explosion in spending by so-called Super PACs, the 2012 run will easily eclipse the mark set in 2008, with expenses by the two eventual front-runners expected to exceed a combined $1 billion.

The recent expansion of fundraising has placed a greater emphasis on the wants and desires of a few moneyed interests and siphoned influence away from the people.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We don’t need to have a system where the highest elected office in the land is for sale to the highest bidder. It’s not right that candidates like Ron Paul and Herman Cain are relegated to second-tier status simply because they lack the high-dollar backers that Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and President Obama have herded into their presidentialdonor corrals.

As far back as 1905, then-president Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican, championed the need for stringent campaign finance reform that would ban corporate contributions and cap donations from wealthy individuals. In the time after that, Congress passed a few laws to regulate election spending and even created the Federal Election Commission to oversee all federal campaigns. Recent developments have conspired to change this, however.

The 2010 Citizens United vs. FEC Supreme Court case opened up the flood gates for unlimited and unchecked political contributions from corporations and unions under the guise that cash for campaigns equates to free speech. But it doesn’t.

Free speech is a guy atop a soapbox on a street corner shouting at passers-by, or a newspaper running a risque column. It’s the actual act of distributing a message, the legwork of appealing to the masses. Not putting a few C-notes in someone’s pocket for them to do it for you.

For the record, this columnist could be swayed to write for a given issue if given a few 100 Grand bars.

But back to the campaigns, the ferocity of grassroots support enjoyed by Ron Paul and to a lesser extent Herman Cain will have a tough time overcoming the tide of money flowing to the three best-funded candidates.

The only way to stop this slide toward big-moneyed interests in campaigns is to, as a people, insist we go back to a system where a person’s words and ideas carry more weight than the contents of his wallet.

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