The full-blown corporate takeover of our democracy is well underway. The recently completed Iowa caucuses show the new reality quite clearly where Super PACs outspent actual candidates by a 2-to-1 margin. Following the Citizens United ruling in 2010, the Supreme Court held that corporations and wealthy individuals can spend unlimited sums of anonymous money in elections as long as it is not directly coordinated by campaigns. What has happened instead is that people sympathetic to a given candidate left those campaigns to form super PACs on behalf of the candidate. As the Washington Post reports:
Super PACs have outspent Republican candidates by more than 2 to 1 in Iowa and other early primary states this election cycle, according to data from the Federal Election Commission and Kantar Media/CMAG, which tracks ad spending. The gulf is even wider when the picture is broadened to include other independent groups, many of which already haves spots on the air in Colorado, Ohio and states that are likely to be key battlegrounds in November.
The clearest beneficiary of the onslaught has been former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who was able to fend off a last-minute surge by former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) with the help of more than $4 million in advertising from Restore Our Future, a super PAC staffed by former Romney advisers. Romney’s campaign spent relatively little ad money in Iowa.
Democracy is for sale. The only real winner? Large corporations looking to legally bribe politicians (or punish them for voting the “wrong” way).