One huge, developing irony of the Citizens United decision is that all the corporate and 1% fueled cash flowing into right-wing Super-Pacs (Political Action Committees) will nominate a Republican poster boy from that privileged world who cannot be elected.
The Citizens United decision handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court in January of 2010, held that the First Amendment protection of free speech prohibits the government from limiting political campaign spending by corporations and unions. In other words, corporations and those who run them can spend limitlessly on political advertising to influence elections. Of course the right-wing is also simultaneously gutting Democrat leaning unions wherever they can get away with it, like Wisconsin and Indiana, but that’s a topic for another day.
The impact of this limitless cash flow was evident in the recent Republican primary in Florida. Days before the Florida vote, “angry muffin” and former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich stomped previously favored Mitt Romney in South Carolina, primarily on the strength of his Mano y Mano debate performances against Mr. Romney and the “elite media,” whatever that is. With the critical Florida primary just days away after the stunning SC upset, the Romney campaign and Super-Pacs supporting him opened the cash spigots and outspent Mr. Gingrich by $4.5 to $1 in the Sunshine State, most of it on negative ads savaging Mr. Gingrich on his censure as Speaker of the House and his work as “a historian” on behalf of 2008 meltdown villian Freddie Mac that earned his firm $1.6M. The ads worked and Romney won by nearly 15%. It’s easy to beat up a guy weighed down by a politically sordid past like Mr. Speaker.
Meanwhile, back in the country, the demographics of general election voters continue to move away from what the Republicans represent: the wealthy and large corporations. The gap between the rich and the so called “middle class” continues to widen, and many of the “99%” non-rich see the Republicans defending the disparity with their shielding of Bush era tax cuts for the rich, their assault on unions, and their targeting of programs like Medicare that are part of the “social safety net” that keeps many vulnerable Americans from falling into medical expense induced poverty.
After South Carolina, the “Republican establishment,” as Mr. Gingrich calls them, freaked. In their minds, the former Speaker had too much political baggage, but more importantly, they saw him as too volitile, and one thing the 1% doesn’t tolerate is uncertainty and surprises. They prefer Mr. Romney’s vanilla to the nuttiness of Mr. Gingrich’s Rocky Road. So they buried Newt Gingrich in a grave smeared with money.
That brings us back to the choice of the 1%, Willard Mitt Romney. He of the multiple homes, multiple off-shore accounts and multiple tax deductions. He lives in a world that makes him unable to measure the impact of his words on working people before they leave his mouth. He’s “not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there.” Earlier in the campaign he said, “I like firing people,” and when discussing speaking fees he’s received he indicated they earned him “not very much.” His financial disclosures indicate Mr. Romney’s speaking fees were $347,327 in the one year covered. That’s “not very much” to a very small percentage of the electorate. I figure about 1%.
Regardless of how much money pours into Romney coffers, what is the message he and his Super-Pac’s will communicate through their new First Amendment right? Will his years at Bain Capital really stand up to scrutiny of Mr. Romney as a job creator? Will his offshore tax havens and meager tax payments on millions in income position him favorably as an advocate for working people? How about his intent to repeal the “Affordable Care Act,” or “Obamacare” as the right likes to call it? It’s so close to the healthcare plan he negotiated as Governor of Massachusetts that his argument is mostly moot. How about the “weak on national defense” thing? Someone should tell Mitt about Osama Bin Laden and Moammar Gadhafi. Maybe they can pour millions into negative ads about the “corrupt” Obama Administration. They’ve got nothing. Oh, wait. Maybe Mitt’s latest endorser, The Donald, will release the findings of his investigation into Obama’s birth certificate… Mr. Romney would have been well served by leaving a most obnoxious rich guy, Mr. Trump, his combover and his ego standing at the political alter, but he just doesn’t get it.
Sorry. In spite of Mitt Romney’s entitled life, Citizens United, Super Pac’s and the Koch Brothers, this election won’t be bought.