In 2012, Sheldon Adelson alone put more than $100 million into the Republican presidential primary campaign, single-handedly keeping Newt Gingrich afloat – and didn’t even apologize. The Koch brothers spent many times that amount, their own contributions and what they’d collected.
Next year, we may think of that as the good old days. Already, the Koch brothers have announced plans to spend nearly a billion dollars. Various other billionaires – and even some struggling multimillionaires – will be spending heavily on the race, including some on the Democratic side.
Watching thousands of 30-second attack ads, and watching candidates constantly seeking money, it’s not hard to conclude this isn’t how democracy is supposed to work. We’ve gone from one man, one vote, to countless votes, one checkbook.
Even some congressmen object. But there’s not much they can do about it.
In the Citizens United case, the Supreme Court not only decided the legal case, but went out of its way to throw out a century of limits on campaign contributions.
Short of a constitutional amendment, it’s hard to see what limits Congress could pass – even if it wanted to.
A five-man majority of the Supreme Court insists that money, any amount of money, is speech.
In 2016, get used to being yelled at.
NOTE: This commentary appeared on KGW-TV, 3/28/15.