11.08.12 Citizens United, revisited

If you’re like me, you assumed that the Citizens United case would make the US permanently, deeply red by allowing unfettered corporate-elite dollars to drown out all other voices. As it turned out, though, the billion dollars spent by the ultra-wealthy to destroy US democracy produced almost nothing.

Sure, all those dollars made a big difference during the GOP primaries (by keeping Newt Gingrich afloat long after his expiration date, for example). To that extent, the money permanently damaged Mitt Romney’s brand-of-the-moment, rendering him unelectable.

In the general election campaign, though, Obama swept all the battleground states except North Carolina and every single right-wing senate candidate in a close contest lost! Even in the House, two-thirds of GOP candidates who outspent their opponents in close races lost.

Bottom line: these brilliant magnates made not one, but a whole series of terrible investments.

Was all this money  in politics a good thing? Of course not. As delighted as I am about these plutocratic wing-nuts waking up poorer yesterday, with nothing to show for it, all that money meant that all candidates had to spend more time coddling special interests and fundraising, as opposed to doing the people’s business.

Here’s a potential reason why all that money didn’t buy any victories: it merely made the rubble bounce. (If you don’t get that analogy, it is from warfare: once you have bombed a location into smithereens, additional bombs make no difference, because all they do is shake the rubble.) Think about this: If you were in Ohio, watching one negative ad after another, day after day, week after week, what are the chances that you actually paid any attention to them after a while? The message bombardment failed to land, because the targets had long ago been saturated and made up their minds.

Don’t get me wrong: Citizens United still must be overturned. And the GOP might still find away to make nonstop advertising work for them in a future election. But this time it just plain didn’t work.

©2012 Keith Berner

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