Below is my comment calling on the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to put an end to secret political spending by corporations and others attempting to tilt elections while evading accountability.
Why should the FEC listen to you?
Well, for starters, because the FEC is in charge of our federal election laws, and you are a voter. You might have noticed our election system is kind of a mess. It wasn't great before the Supreme Court's disastrous Citizens United ruling -- and it's now so overrun with billionaire-backed sham campaigns and corporate sock puppet groups that it's hard to believe any candidate capable of challenging rule by the One Percent can win.
So here's the comment I submitted urging the FEC to require disclosure of political spending. It won't fix everything -- we need a constitutional amendment to carry things as far as we really need them to go -- but it can, at least, fix something.
To the FEC:
How much are our elections being distorted by secret spending?
How many candidates don't run because they don't want to put their families through the horror show of ugly, unaccountable attacks?
And how many don't run because they don't want such attacks to occur on their behalf?
My sense is - and I think a lot of Americans would agree - that the kind of people who are so utterly disgusted by the mire of secret spending are the same kind of people who actually should be involved in politics.
Let's be honest. You know the slash-and-burn political adds that dark money groups run don't "inform" anyone - they shrink the electorate by making as many reasonable people as possible feel nothing but disgust and contempt for the process. If congressional approval ratings are any indication, they work. And with the electorate reduced to each party's base of die-hard standard bearers, it's no wonder nothing gets done. (I know you folks don't have to look far to notice partisan gridlock causing inaction, do you?)
But of course the solicitation of comments for this rule is supposed to signify a change at the FEC, right? You're working together to make some things happen now, right?
Too often, "bipartisanship" means Republicans and Democrats getting past their differences in order to dupe the public and deliver what corporate lobbyists want.
I hope the FEC's new emphasis on working together is not that.
Here's to hoping the FEC's efforts really can result in new rules requiring disclosure of the corporations and individuals behind the dark money campaigns corrupting our elections.
If I didn't believe it could make a difference, I wouldn't be submitting this comment.
But after the past five years or so - especially since the Supreme Court's appalling ruling in Citizens United v. FEC - it's hard to imagine anyone who cares about our elections isn't feeling at least a little bit cynical.
But cynical is better than hopeless.
And if you still think your agency is capable of addressing our dysfunctional elections, then by all means give it the best damn shot you can.
Rick Claypool is the online director for Public Citizen's Congress Watch division.