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All Parties Agree: SuperPACs a Cancer on the Body Politic


The brilliant satire that is the Colbert SuperPAC/Presidential campaign continues, with Jon Stewart watching Stephen on “television” and picking up cues to use in managing the SuperPAC. This reveals the absurdity of an “uncoordinated” SuperPAC. Obviously these entities have obliterated the campaign finance system and turned American politics, especially at the Presidential level, into a corporate free-for-all.

So it’s no wonder that the public has picked up this message, with or without the Colbert/Stewart urging.

A majority of voters who are aware of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling allowing Super PACs believe the unlimited campaign spending is having a negative effect on the race, a new poll finds.

Less than a year to go before Election Day, 54 percent of voters indicated that they have heard of the controversial 2010 Supreme Court decision that allowed super PACs to spend unlimited amounts of money for or against political candidates, according to the Pew Research Center poll. Of those who are aware of the historic ruling, a whopping 65 percent said they think the effect on campaigns has been negative, compared with only 15 percent who said the net result seems positive.

Obviously, the Supreme Court doesn’t consult polls before deciding to revisit its rulings. But public opinion can shape a legislative response. And right now, voters are saying clearly that they hate the trajectory of money in politics. That could manifest itself with something as trifling as more disclosure, or as wide-ranging as what the Move to Amend movement wants, a constitutional amendment banning corporate personhood. There is no partisan divide on this question among the public, and in fact, since Republicans saw the implications of the SuperPAC revolution first-hand in their primaries, their constituencies may be first out of the gate wanting to change the system.

Move to Amend actually has a big set of protests scheduled for Friday, the second anniversary of the Citizens United decision. They’re calling it Occupy the Courts, and they will protest on the steps of many courthouses around the country, including the US Supreme Court.

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David Dayen

David Dayen