Will corporate Puppet Masters determine the November elections? Is this another example of the “Crazy Years” that science fiction writer Robert Heinlein warned us about years ago? His novel, “Puppet Masters,” was published in 1951—a horrific tale of parasitic invaders from outer space taking over humanity. Some say it foreshadowed the 1956 movie, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”
In 2010, no one is afraid of aliens from beyond the planet. But millions watching television this autumn are asking: Hey, who funded that political attack ad? Was it a corporation trying to pull political strings? Was it a foreign government hostile to America?
The answer is: We may never know!
That warning may sound like a line out of 1950s science fiction, but there is a factual side to this political paranoia at the moment. Spending on advertising is way up this political season, driven in large part by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision allowing corporations to spend unlimited amounts on political campaigns. I argued in March this year that this decision made for bad politics. Now, I think it makes for really bad politics because two other less-well-known decisions made it possible to hide the source of funding behind political ads and campaign contributions.
Those political ads you’re watching just might be funded by corporations that want to influence your vote, but conceal their involvement. There’s no question that’s true. Attack ads also could be paid for by foreign governments and we would never know. Obama claims that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is taking anonymous foreign contributions and using them to fund Republican attack ads. The Chamber even has offices abroad to attract funding. The second claim also seems to be true according to ThinkProgress, but at least at this point, no large-scale paper trail of foreign money has been documented. Unfortunately, it may prove impossible to ever document such a record because these donations legally may be kept secret.
Not only is spending way up, but it’s clearly affecting the mid-term elections, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Do you agree that corporations should be able to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections?
Or is this paranoia overblown?
Second: Do you think it’s OK for those donations to remain secret?
How about funding from foreign sources?
What do YOU think should be done?
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