Ever since the Citizens United Supreme Court case was deliberated and ultimately decided on, the vast majority of this country’s political pundits have raised various negative points about it. The Supreme Court ruled that individuals, corporations and unions can indeed spend unlimited amount of money to attack any particular candidate without any oversight or transparency. Those looking to achieve this objective had to form organizations called super PACS (Political Action Committees), capable of raising as much money as possible from one or several donors. Unlike regular PACs, Super PACs, for the most part, are not subject to the rules of the Federal Electoral Commission (FEC), the government agency in charge of overseeing elections. However, the Supreme Court ruled that candidates must not be directly linked to these Super PACS. The outcry was greatly illuminated at the start of the Republican Party Presidential campaign in Iowa, where Newt Gingrich was properly carpet bombed by his opponents. Eventually, by South Carolina, Gingrich had a super PAC of his own that allowed him to give as much as he was getting.
The events that sowed the seeds of the birth of Super PACs were the Presidential elections of 2008. President Obama, then candidate Obama, did something no other Presidential candidate has ever done since the days of Kennedy. He declined taking public campaign finance, a tradition that called for two candidates embracing public finance funds after the convention, thus putting a halt to fundraising. As a result, counting the primaries as well as the general elections, John McCain ended up spending $330 million to Barack Obama’s $730 million. In swing states, Obama outspent McCain by marginal as large as 4-1 in Ohio, 7-1 in Indiana and 3-2 in North Carolina.
What Super PACs do, essentially, is to level the playing field. No longer would one candidate, be it Democratic or Republican, have an overwhelming advantage in campaign funding in a general election (granted, the primaries are rather different and unfair to the candidates without adequate backing from big-money donors). All this talk about the big money people from Wall Street and other powerful industries taking over the process is simply exaggerated. People will still vote how they want to vote, and if one political commercial or newspaper advertisement is able to sway people one way or another, then those people deserve to be manipulated.
Money is not the problem in our political system; ignorance is. At the end of the day, a person is allowed to vote however he/she pleases. Yes, super PACs make for a very messy political process. They promote mudslinging and push politicians to appear to be more radical than they actually are. It makes for terrible optics. But, elections are free, and transparent (in most cases at least, save for Florida). As long as that holds true, there is really no reason to stress ourselves with the amount of money spent in elections. This year, both Presidential candidates will have an upwards of $600 million each. They will use that money to vigorously attack each other while trying their best to appear pious in the eyes of the public. If any voter falls for that nonsense, then that person will deserve whatever consequence that comes with electing, or re-electing, whoever wins the election. It’s really that simple folks.