Court ruling promises sleazy campaign season

To the Editor:

Are you sickened by the millions of dollars spent to elect politicians at a time when too many of our citizens are hungry? Did you get disgusted by the incessant TV ads during the 2008 election season? Well, it’s already started again, and it’s going to get much worse. In 2008, we saw ads from candidates ending with, “I’m Joe Good Guy, and I approved this message.” We’ll still have those, but this year will bring increasingly more and nastier ads bashing the candidates’ opponents using out-of-context quotes, misleading statements, and downright lies. They will end with “Noble Sounding Organization is responsible for the content of this message.” These Noble Sounding Organizations are deep-pocketed special interest groups, corporations, and filthy rich people. They could even be foreign corporations or governments, since the law does not require the organizations to disclose their donors.

The reason for this barrage is the 2010 decision by five ultra-conservative activist members of the Supreme Court who ruled that corporations are people and money is speech, overturning a century-old ban on corporate campaign contributions. This brought on the rise of super Political Action Committees which can raise unlimited amounts of money from undisclosed donors and funnel it into our political process. These super PACs are “supposed” to be independent from the candidates, allowing the candidates to deny personal responsibility for the nastiness. In actuality, they are run by relatives or close associates of the candidates.  

We got a bitter taste of this right here during the 2010 election. It has been reported that PACs spent $1 million to defeat incumbent State Sen. John Snow, D-Murphy. Remember the ad portraying Sen. Snow as a spendthrift for voting to build a pier with an aquarium on the coast? What the ad didn’t tell you is that every other member of the North Carolina legislature — Republicans and Democrats — voted for the pier.  This is just one example of the many misleading PAC ads from the 2010 election.

Bills have been introduced in the U.S. Senate and House proposing a constitutional amendment to make it clear that corporations are not entitled to the same constitutional rights as people and allow Congress and state legislatures to regulate the role of corporations in the election process.

There will be actions supporting the call for a constitutional amendment all over the country on Jan. 21, the second anniversary of the Supreme Court decision. Look for one near you. And during this election season, be aware that the PACs producing misleading ads and mailers don’t care about our welfare, just about manipulating us.  They think we are stupid.  Don’t let our democracy be bought out from under us.

Carole Larivee


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