Campaign fundraising is a really complicated issue.
Or at least, it appears to be very complicated.
Somehow, what seems to be a very simple concept — that money is the dirty part of politics and it probably should have the most oversight and regulation — has gotten really confusing, to the point that all rhetoric has resorted to the equivalent of political gaslighting.
And now the slope has been doused in olive oil…
In a 5-4 decision, with the majority opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the Supreme Court ruled that limits on the total amount of money donors can give to all candidates, committees, and political parties are unconstitutional; a ruling that the New York Timesdubbed “a sequel of sorts to Citizens United, the 2010 decision that struck down limits on independent campaign spending by corporations and unions.”
So what does this mean?
To put it this way, and to quote The Huffington Post‘s Paul Blumenthal, “A single donor can now give more than $5 million in individually limited contributions to every House candidate, every Senate candidate, every state party committee, every national party committee and every leadership PAC connected to one political party.”
Ironically, it’s really that simple.
If it’s any consolation, the ruling doesn’t affect the $2,600 limit on how much a donor can give to a federal candidate in each primary and general election or the $32,400 limit that can go to a national party committee. Those limits, which guard against corruption, “are at the root of the federal law.“
Are you now a little confused as to how this all could happen?
Well, the conservative majority of judges decided that the spending of money was actually a form of speech and thus was protected by the First Amendment (insert “money talks” joke).
And now with that little bit of magic, Mitch McConnell can seem patriotic when he decries, “Let me be clear for all those who would criticize the decision: It does not permit one more dime to be given to an individual candidate or a party. It just respects the constitutional rights of individuals to decide how many to support.”
See, it’s been simplified even more now; it’s just a simple matter of protecting free speech.
It’s complicated to explain how we got here, but now we have a new simple truth; it just happens to be an insulting one that bet on the limits of simple minds. But it’s easy to sell.
And it should infuriate those that see it for what it is.
Justice Stephen Breyer was so outraged that he pulled the rarely used “read my dissent from the bench” move so that it was sure to be heard:
“Taken together with [Citizens United], today’s decision eviscerates our nation’s campaign finance laws, leaving a remnant incapable of dealing with the grave problems of democratic legitimacy that those laws were intended to resolve.”
And if that all sounds too complicated, he then put it simply…
“If the court in Citizens United opened a door, today’s decision may well open a floodgate.”