For Sale: Election 2010

By H.R. Holt, October 19, 2010

In January of this year, the Supreme Court overturned parts of the McCain-Feingold Act that limited corporate funding of political broadcasts in candidate elections. The case was Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 50 (2010). Ironically, Citizens United declares its mission as being ” dedicated to restoring our government to citizens’ control.” However, their lawsuit accomplished the exact opposite. The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision opened the flood gates, allowing multi-national corporations and special interest groups to spend many millions of dollars without revealing their source, to influence the upcoming elections on November 2.

These untold millions of dollars have benefited Republican candidates, many endorsed by the Tea Party, and resulted in the Republican National Committee being able to outspend the Democratic Party by a 7-1 margin. For months now, television ads attacking Ann Kirkpatrick and Harry Mitchell have aired repeatedly on local TV. One in particular discloses that it is sponsored by “Americans for Prosperity” , a Washington , D.C. based political advocacy group financed by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch. With a combined fortune in excess of 35 billion dollars, the Koch brothers have spent over a million dollars for political ads in Arizona alone. Nationwide, they have spent over 4 million in a well organized effort to advance their own self interests as well as corporate profits.

As reported by The New Yorker in an article titled “Covert Operations”, authored by Jane Meyer and published August 30, 2010, ” The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry-especially environmental regulation.” In the same article, David Koch is quoted as saying “If we’re going to give a lot of money, we’ll make darn sure they spend it in a way that goes along with our intent, and if they make a wrong turn and start doing things we don’t agree with, we withdraw funding.”

In an example of supreme irony, and outright deception, the New Yorker article reveals that on July 4th of this year Americans for Prosperity sponsored an event in Austin, Texas that “… served, in part, as a training session for Tea Party activists in Texas. An advertisement cast the event as a populist uprising against vested corporate power. “Today, the voices of average Americans are being drowned out by lobbyists and special interests,” it said. “But you can do something about it.” The pitch made no mention of its corporate funders.”

When Republicans, Libertarians, and the Tea Party preach “less government”, what they truly mean is less government for the wealthy elite, not for working class middle America. It was “less government” that resulted in the current US financial crisis that came about due to insufficient oversight of lucrative trading practices by Wall Street. It was “less government” that led to the Gulf oil spill, the worst in US history, due to a lack of regulations and oversight of deep sea oil exploration. And it was “less government” that played a role in the catastrophic explosion of a 54 year old gas pipeline in San Bruno, California that killed eight people and destroyed 37 homes. What “less government” is really about is “more profit” for corporations with fewer protections, and increased risks, for rank and file Americans.

If elected to office, who will these conservative candidates backed by deep pocketed donors be representing in Washington, D.C.? I sincerely doubt that it will be the voters whom elected them to office. They will be too busy representing the multi-national corporations and special interest groups that financed their campaigns and bought the election for them.

For more information, see the full “Covert Operations” article in The New Yorker available online here: Covert Operations

Posted in Letters to the Editor.