Worth reading today: the New York Times editorial titled “A Senator Fights Back.” The Times piece describes the unfair fight facing Claire McCaskill as she opts to try to fight back against the GOP SuperPACs that are pouring money into Missouri to try to unseat her.
The money (literally) quote:
Republican interest groups are outspending Ms. McCaskill and other Missouri Democrats by a 7-to-1 ratio; Ms. McCaskill herself is being outspent by 3 to 1. Though she has raised nearly $10 million, the amount could be dwarfed by the unlimited money at the disposal of Republican-oriented groups.
A sample of what the money is buying:
“Fourteen thousand dollars,” one Crossroads GPS ad intones, while a beleaguered father holds his head in his hands. “Under President Obama and Senator Claire McCaskill, that’s what every man, woman and child in America owes in new government debt.” The ad wrongly suggests that individuals will “owe” the government a check for that amount, and of course never mentions that Mr. Rove’s patron, President George W. Bush, was responsible for nearly five times more of the current debt than President Obama.
What the Times thinks about the situation:
Crossroads GPS claims to be a tax-exempt social welfare group, so it does not have to disclose its big corporate donors. That lie is no less outrageous than it was in 2010, when these groups first started sheltering their political activity under a tax loophole. It is long past time for the Internal Revenue Service to begin investigating and prosecuting this clear violation of the law.
Meanwhile, while a few politicians and pundits fret about the situation, those of us in Missouri and other similar states can sit back and watch the unedifying spectacle of corporations trying to buy our democracy.
The issue for politicians like Claire McCaskill is that the opposition, thanks to their unlimited funds, can keep lobbing lies like Groucho Marx used to lob his jokes, so fast and furiously that it doesn’t make any difference if a few miss their mark. Or, in the current case, so fast and furiously and with such relentless repetition that it becomes impossible to respond effectively or to lay any particular calumny to rest. No matter how fast you clean off spitballs, enough of them will leave a sticky film.
The issue for the rest of us is that the attacks on both our democratic process and the governmental structures that have shored up the American middle class are subject to such a fast and furious onslaught that we are unable to focus and set priorities. We are always rallying to put out brush fires and never get to the major conflagration that is threatening us.
Surely, though, pushback against the conditions that permit the subversion of our elections by big money has to be our most important focus. Electing officials who have our interests at heart is essential if we are to form a bulwark against the current GOP attack on essential social structures. Sadly, as the Times observes on the topic of legislating greater transparency in campaign finance, the fight may already be nearly lost:
Congress could also require disclosure of donors, and end the coordination between outside groups and political parties. That is increasingly unlikely, however, as long as some members of Congress owe their elections, and their allegiance, to the same groups.