If I Had a Super PAC

There’s an old Bruce Cockburn song called “If I Had a Rocket Launcher” that if I was musically inclined I’d adapt to modern times and write new words and sing, “If I Had A Super PAC.”  To understand a little bit of what a Super PAC is read “Newt’s Shop of Horrors.”  Basically, if you’re wealthy you can make political war for or against political candidates so long as you don’t align yourself with any candidate.  In essence it allows individuals and corporations, folks with lots of dough, to weigh in political and do the dirty fighting for the candidate of their choice.

In the old days a six-shooter was considered an equalizer.  It didn’t matter if you were big and strong or little and weak, the implication was guns made everyone equal.  The Bruce Cockburn song ups the ante to imply you need a rocket launcher to be equal in our modern world.  Well, now it seems to be equal in politics you need a Super PAC.

The inherent problem of Super PACs is only the rich can afford them and thus the rich have more political influence.  What Timothy Egan’s article says about Republicans fighting each other with Super PACs is it ironically illustrates why they are unfair.  Mr. Gingrich helped promote the creation of a Super PAC and now he’s suffering from the results of an escalating war.

I’m poor and liberal, but I got to thinking, what if I had a Super PAC, what would I do?  Not that I’d really use one – I mean, I don’t own an assault rifle (hey, I’m liberal) but it’s fun to think about what one would do with a Super PAC.  If a big gun makes you feel like you have a big you know what, what must welding a Super PAC make you feel?

Our polarized political society is creating all kinds of escalating political weapons.  Take the hacker group Anonymous – they attack corporations they deem unethical with hacker tools.  Arab Spring showed us how little people can overthrow powerful tyrants by using Twitter, Facebook and other social media.  Conservatives and NRA members probably never picture liberals armed to the teeth, so I don’t imagine Republicans pictured Democrats with Super PACs, but after the conventions I expect both parties to bring out whole legions of Super PACs on both sides.  What we have to ask are Super PACs weapons of mass destruction that should be outlawed?

Expect shock and awe attacks on President Obama of all kinds.  But also imagine what liberals can do with Super PACs.  Republicans are going to claim The Comedy Channel started the escalation.  Then countered with Fox News.  Researcher should graph the growth negative ads in politics and the evolution of rhetoric to unbelievable levels.

I find it painful.  If I had a Super PAC I’d attack the legality of Super PACs, but instead I’ll just turn off my TV.

JWH – 1/7/12

For more fun on Super PACs, read my friend’s Bill blog, That’s Interesting…

One thought on “If I Had a Super PAC”

  1. Thanks for the plug, Jim!

    But note that a six-shooter was never really an equalizer, either. Some people were just younger, faster, and more skilled than others. Some didn’t have families to protect. Some could practice all day, instead of spending the time working their fields or otherwise laboring to support that family. Some just had moral objections to shooting a man in the back.

    Of course, even in the Wild West, having a lawyer on your side was almost always better than having a fast gun-hand yourself. And if you had the money, you could hire all the lawyers and gunhands you needed, anyway. So the average individual was hopelessly outgunned from the start. So much for being an “equalizer,” huh?

    This is the same thing. Money isn’t speech, because some people have far more money than others. If you’re a billionaire, you won’t even miss that million dollars you spent to buy a politician. But for most of us, that’s not even an option.

    And the wealthy can think of it as an investment, not an expense. For every dollar they spend buying a Republican, they can expect several dollars back in tax cuts for the rich. But if you oppose this stuff, just because you think it’s disastrous for our country, your donations – such as they are – will be an expense.

    In your case, you will actually be sacrificing for the good of America. Sure, if America does better, you’ll tend to do better, yourself. But it’s an indirect relationship, at best. What the wealthy do is more like legalized bribery.

    Liberals have Super PACs, too – what choice do they have, now? – but that in no way levels the playing field. The big problem is that, under this system, Democrats will be just as reliant on big money as Republicans. Of course, for the wealthy, that’s win/win. And for Republicans, the party of the rich, that’s not exactly a bad thing, either.

    But for the rest of us, it’s a very, very bad thing indeed. And no, neither hacking nor assault weapons are an appropriate solution. All we’ve got is rational argument. As valuable as that is, I’m afraid that we’re badly out-gunned in the field of politics.

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