Each week we post a run-down of the best of our reader comments with the hopes of highlighting some of your most valuable insights and encouraging more people to join the fray. Let us know what you think—in the comments!
RBrudzynski: We may see the emergence of a surprise supporter of limits on campaign spending—contributors to PACs and Super PACs! The ability to contribute unlimited amounts of money to a PAC has resulted in an orgy of financial excess as each PAC tries to out-raise and outspend its competitors. The rich have traditionally been able to control the political process by spending limited amounts of money. Now, the cost of control is unlimited.
In the GOP primaries we can see the rival factions pissing away megabucks in the effort to control the outcome. For all but one of the PACs, that money will have been wasted when the GOP finally selects a candidate. (Democrats can be pleased that money spent by Republican PACs on internal battles won’t be available for the general election.) At some point, competition may result in the cost of financial control of government exceeding the benefits gained. PAC contributors may decide it’s time to call a halt to the process and support modest reforms limiting expenditures. (Of course, any reforms they support will still leave them in control while limiting the overall cost of control.) Politicians may also find reforms desirable as out-of-control and even hostile PACs make it difficult for the politicians to control their own campaigns, (e.g. Gingrich’s back down from his supporting PAC’s critique of Romney’s business practices). The PACs may become a nuisance to the politicians they support.
After the current election cycle is completed, PAC contributors, politicians, and the public may be ready for reform. This may provide the Left with an opportunity to mobilize public support for limitations on spending that will shift more control to the public and away from the well-financed special interests. There’s nothing definite now, but opportunity for reform may knock after the election is over.
In response to Ilyse Hogue’s “What if ‘Citizens United’ Actually United the Citizens?” January 20, 2012
Cka2nd: I agree with much of what Mr. Goldberg wrote, and with his conclusion that what this fight basically represented was a conflict between two different industries ("Old Leftist" that I am, I might even say two different sectors or wings of the ruling class). Three caveats, though:
1. In an ideal world, a commentary like this would acknowledge the abuses of the copyright process by media corporations over the last century, including the multiple extensions of the copyright period by years and even decades by the federal government under pressure from corporate America.
2. More importantly, those copyright abuses have included aggressive and frankly abusive lawsuits and court cases against consumers and creators both (one could write a book about Disney’s legal efforts alone) not to mention the grossly one-sided contracts companies have imposed on creators, for instance in the music and comic book industries. To dismiss Clay Shirky’s assertion that the targets of SOPA and PIPA are "us, we’re the people getting policed" is to ignore the actions of the music industry against thousands of individual youth and adults, for instance, in only the last decade or so.