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How the FCC Can Take the Money Out of Politics

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Posted on Feb 22, 2012
AP / Paul Sancya

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who was able to stay in the race only because of a handful of wealthy supporters, has eclipsed Mitt Romney in polls.

By Juan Cole

Big money has always been a problem in American politics, but now humongous money threatens to capsize the ship of state. Billionaires are very, very good at getting rich, mostly through stealth monopolies, relatively sure things (e.g., casinos) or through riding investment bubbles. But they are seldom scientists, physicians or educators, and can often entertain rather cranky beliefs, such as climate change denial or misogyny. Thus, the GOP super wealthy, having produced the tea party in 2010, have now given us national candidates so extreme that they often seem to be running for Supreme Leader of Iran instead of president of the United States. Although the Citizens United ruling of the Supreme Court contributed to this problem, the culprits here are, fundamentally, the length of U.S. campaigns and the cost of television advertising for them.

Ari Berman has shown that about four-fifths of the money raised by super PACs in 2011 for the Republican primary contests was donated by only 196 individuals, who gave $100,000 or more each. Politics has become a game of the super rich, but the money they donate is significant only because of the way it is spent. An increasingly large percentage of it pays for television and radio commercials, and it is used by our new aristocracy to keep pet candidates alive. Newt Gingrich, for instance, might not have made it to South Carolina, where he won, without the backing of a single individual, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, owner of the Venetian in Las Vegas.

In the 2008 campaign year, about $2.8 billion was spent on television campaign spots nationwide, and the figure is expected to be much larger this time. Although television advertising is not always decisive, politicians can’t afford to bet that it won’t be. Mitt Romney spent $15 million in negative advertising against Gingrich in the Florida primary, which arguably blunted Gingrich’s momentum coming off his South Carolina win. Why should private broadcasters, licensed by the U.S. government in preference of other possible licensees, have been allowed to make massive profits off a public political campaign?

As early as the Iowa campaign, Gingrich began complaining about super PAC-funded television advertisements he said were spreading falsehoods about him on behalf of Romney. Romney responded, “Could I come out and speak about ads, generally, and speak about positive ads and negative ads? Of course, that’s available to everybody. But I’m not in any way coordinating the ads or the approach that’s taken by the super PAC.” Gingrich replied scornfully, “It tells you a lot about Governor Romney ... I’m happy to go all over Iowa and point out that he doesn’t mind hiding out behind millions of dollars of negative ads, but he doesn’t want to defend them. The ads are false.”

Would the Florida electoral contest, for instance, have yielded more light and less heat if each candidate had been apportioned airtime based on an equitable formula? Might not Jon Huntsman or Tim Pawlenty have been able to stay in the race and perhaps overcome initial handicaps if they had been able to advertise for free? We are choosing our presidential candidates the way we choose our favorite television shows, by which one generates the most advertising revenue for the broadcaster. Is that really what the founding generation of Americans had in mind?

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The Federal Communications Commission should forbid television broadcasters from charging for campaign ads, and we, the public, should peacefully demonstrate outside the FCC offices at 445 12th Street SW, in Washington, D.C., until it does so.

Like the water or the air, the spectrum over which broadcasters transmit their wares is a finite resource that everyone depends on, and which needs to be regulated by government to prevent chaos and hoarding. But in licensing some corporations to dominate the airwaves, Congress inevitably excluded others. I can’t start a radio broadcast from my home because it would interfere with licensed stations. Because choosing some voices over others is inherently unfair, Congress in the Radio Act of 1927 and the Communications Act of 1934 established a general requirement that broadcasters act in the “public interest, convenience and necessity.” This conception of broadcasters as public trustees has been repeatedly upheld by the Supreme Court. The FCC could easily invoke this requirement to demand that campaign commercials be aired gratis.

Moreover, why do electoral campaigns have to last so long? Most democratic countries with a parliamentary system manage to pull them off in about three weeks. Romney announced his candidacy 19 months ahead of the election. Why have rolling state primaries for months on end? Surely it would be possible to have a short campaign season, beginning a month before the primaries, which could be held the same day nationwide. The FCC could also regulate the free ads so that they could be placed only during that month. We don’t vote state by state in the presidential election, so why should we do so in primaries for a national party candidate? The length of the campaign creates the need for big money as surely as the television commercials do. Again, a Huntsman or a Pawlenty, both more likely to do well in a general election than any of the current Republican marathon survivors, couldn’t have been knocked out so easily in a short campaign (their main problem was that they ran out of money).

Repealing Citizens United may be a long and difficult struggle, though a necessary one. But reducing the salience of humongous money in campaigns could be tackled to begin with in these other ways. What is clear is that America is less democratic by the minute, and that bad public policy is being promoted as a result of the dominance of politics by a handful of individuals and corporations. When we hear Republican candidates deny climate change as a result of the massive amounts of carbon dioxide and soot we are putting into the air, we know their ventriloquist is Big Oil. The climate scientists are being outshouted and marginalized by a very wealthy, very small group, and as a result the U.S. is endangering itself and the entire globe.

James Madison, a key shaper of the U.S. system, believed that on any important issue there would be more than one faction in the body politic who would contend with one another until a compromise was reached. He also assumed that despite inequalities of resources, there would be sufficient controversy about legislation that extreme positions would be moderated. But when we have 400 billionaires buying our elections, it is perfectly possible for a handful of cranks to deeply influence the outcome and then to dictate policy positions to their clients, the winning politicians. The moderating influence of the broad electorate has been vitiated. That dynamic has produced what many puzzled voters have termed the Republican “clown car” in this election season. The democratic bargain struck by the founding generation, whereby we all have a chance to influence our country’s destiny, is in danger of being undone, with unimaginable consequences. Occupy the FCC.


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By GoyToy, February 24, 2012 at 7:40 am Link to this comment

If Cole looked deeper into who and how people get appointed to the FCC he would not be serving up this drivel.

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By sal3, February 23, 2012 at 3:57 pm Link to this comment

There is something annoyingly wrong with the formatting here. How do we contact
the web master to get this fixed.

Also, it would be good to have a click link to be able to respond to a post
conveniently, rather than go all the way to the beginning of the comments.

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Alan Lunn's avatar

By Alan Lunn, February 23, 2012 at 1:16 pm Link to this comment

While I applaud Juan’s reasoning here, I’m just
wondering what the blowback would be if the FCC
actually did this. I’m guessing it would seem
draconian to them.

On Bill Maher’s show last week, Eliot Spitzer made
the heartfelt admission that he actually believes
Citizens United is constitutional in the sense that
free speech cannot be abridged. I think he’s wrong,
but can’t completely say why other than the sheer
seemingly nonsense notions that either a corporation
is a person (anthropomorphism)or that money = speech.

Republican James Bopp is the designer of the coup
that became Citizens United and threatens to close up
shop for American democracy. Where is his reasoning
laid out for all of us to see? This seems like
something we should vote on, not something Republican
justices should decide. This is actually creating a
situation of taxation without representation. And
corporations that are continually bowing out of
taxation will actually basically own the
representation. How can any of this be
“Constitutional”?

Media companies aren’t going to sit still and give
away free ad time to candidates. That doesn’t mean
they shouldn’t or that the government has no
Constitutional right to demand it.

Report this

By heterochromatic, February 23, 2012 at 12:34 pm Link to this comment

Sadly, Air America failed on merit. Any station that would give prime air time to
Janeane Garofalo is a mess.

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By sal3, February 23, 2012 at 9:06 am Link to this comment

After a careful re-read, I think Cole makes some excellent points and a
suggestion deserving careful consideration rather than quips and ill-considered
comments.

American democracy is in very deep trouble due to corporate infiltration of our
electoral and legislative processes as well as our media. Nothing less than
well-informed, highly energetic citizen response will resolve it satisfactorily,
soon enough to prevent irreparable damage..

Consider Cole’s statement: “Congress in the Radio Act of 1927 and the
Communications Act of 1934 established a general requirement that
broadcasters act in the “public interest, convenience and necessity.” This
conception of broadcasters as public trustees has been repeatedly upheld by
the Supreme Court”.  Note that the “requirement” is a primary one in this
context.

Given that primary FCC requirement and the gravity of this real and present
danger, we must treat it as we would any serious national threat. Start by
convening a team of non-partisan, highly qualified experts such as ex
Commissioner Michael Copps. Charter it to revise FCC policy to meet such
threats, now and future. Sounds simple -we’d better hope we can do it.

Apparently, despite overwhelming evidence, some still choose to trivialize the
pathology attacking American democracy today as merely the latest in a long
history of non-memorable, survivable maladies. That would be a terrible and
possibly non-survivable mistake.

We are facing nothing less than a Perfect Storm in the Political, Environmental,
and Resource arenas. It will take every bit of human potential to survive this
one -and we don’t have any time to waste. NONE.

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By Anarcissie, February 23, 2012 at 8:48 am Link to this comment

A free product or service is likely to find an indefinitely large number of consumers.  Political advertising would therefore be likely to occupy 100% of all broadcasting.  Indeed, the demand would probably exceed 100% of broadcast capacity, requiring the providers to select among potential users.  One wonders how that would go!

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By heterochromatic, February 23, 2012 at 8:05 am Link to this comment

tends to corrupt, Laffy tends to .

and there is no reason to confiscate money merely on your dislike of people
having too much of it.


your thinking sucks on this point and of I were you, I would say that people having
bad ideas shouldn’t be allowed to retain them.

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By sal3, February 23, 2012 at 7:34 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

JC has a great idea here deserving serious consideration rather than quips and ill-
considered responses.

In view of:
“Congress in the Radio Act of 1927 and the Communications Act of 1934
established a general requirement that broadcasters act in the “public interest,
convenience and necessity.” This conception of broadcasters as public trustees
has been repeatedly upheld by the Supreme Court”,

We The People can and must demand a re-design of FCC policy as we would a
response to any serious threat to American security or well-being. Enlist the aid of
informed, non-ideological experts such as retired Commisioner M. Copps.

Report this

By Tom Degan, February 23, 2012 at 6:10 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Since the demolition of the Fairness Doctrine thirty years ago, the progressive point-of-view on America’s airwaves has diminished to the point that it’s now almost non-existent. For every Thom Hartmann you have at least twenty Rush Limbaughs. It’s a dire situation that is getting worse with each passing year. And it wasn’t exactly a spirit-lifter when Air America failed a couple of years ago. The people’s airwaves have been stolen by the plutocracy, and they don’t plan on giving it back. Take it back.

http://www.tomdegan.blogspot.com

Tom Degan

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By Lafayette, February 23, 2012 at 4:15 am Link to this comment

IT’S ALL ABOUT THEM

MB: Limiting the personal wealth of individuals to say, 50 million dollars
would have little/no effect on incentivizing entrepreneurship in a capitalist
framework

This is the $64K-Question lurking behind all politics in America today.

It touches upon the matter of our Income Disparity, the worst in the Western World. It touches also the blatant manipulation of the political process that we, the sheeple, have allowed to transpire for far, far too long in our history. It relates to our aspirations for Social Justice towards assuring the well-being of ALL our citizens and not just a select minority.

There are many ways to approach the question of “When is wealth enough and when does it become too much?” Enough is certainly a subjective question. For the moment, we have only determined “poverty thresholds” on the lower side. But on the upper side, we evidently think the sky-is-the-limit. It is time to alter such blatant idiocy.

Money is power and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

But even if that phrase is evidenced today in the corridors of political power in LaLaLand on the Potomac,  we have not even scratched the surface of a cogent discussion regarding its limits. Because the subject is complex. Because the subject is anathema to an entire half of our two-party political system – which happens to control Congress at the moment.

For instance, how is it that we are so indignant about the power-elite in Congress when we, the sheeple, voted them into office? Our Congress is Occupied by the wealthy, to the tune of 47% who are millionaires.

How, in our right minds, can we think that this Priviledge Class can ever bring themselves to a concern about the plight of the lower class (incarcerated in poverty) and the middle-class struggling to keep their heads above water?

No way, José … it’s all about THEM!

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By Lafayette, February 23, 2012 at 2:36 am Link to this comment

BRAVO JC!

JC: The objection that the Supreme Court considers campaign donations to be a form of speech is irrelevant here.  I am not proposing any controls on giving or speech.

Given present laws regarding defamation, what is necessary is their application to STOP the negative advertizing that, unfortunately, seems to have a profound effect upon election campaigns.

The change would be that broadcasters could not charge for that speech.  Since they are public trustees it is reasonable for the FCC to make them do some public service broadcasting..

Not a bad idea because without the funding of such negative messaging, the Plutocrats have less of a hold upon candidates. But it does not answer the prime question posed: “Why does negative advertising, particularly character assassination, have any effect upon the body politic?”

We are not addressing that question, which is key. Why do we have speed limits? Because we know that road speed kills.

We have seen that that same logic should apply to domains, such as finance and politics. As regards politics, ae we too attached to our “freedoms” such that we do not understand how they may be shackling expression rather than freeing it? 

POST SCRIPTUM

I must take this opportunity to congratulate Juan Cole for the courage of having descended into the debate melee. This courage is all too rare amongst journalists. Too much political journalism is One Way – take it or leave it.

More journalists should demonstrate the same courage. Blog debates are our “truest form of freedom-of-speech” because it is bi-lateral. As long as the ensuing exchange does not descend into the pits of textual vituperation, which is the real danger.

Bravo JC!

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By Marian Griffith, February 23, 2012 at 2:11 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

@mondobizarro
—-And while Mr. Cole’s ideas are appealing, they would ultimately fail under strict interpretations of free speech rights.—-

Not necessarily. The idea does not restrict free speech. It merely excludes the right to charge money for political messages and demands a minimum amount of air time to be dedicated to politcal speech during a predefined campaign season. A lot of countries have a similar system without any problem.
What it does is reducing the emphasis on advertisements and scorched earth campaigning and forcing the candidates to get their airtime through debates.

—-Even if we could shorten the campaign season, and provide equal air time to all candidates, what would prevent anyone with enough money from starting an independent media production company and producing/airing commercials espousing their point of view on any issue of the day?—-

We already have that. It is called Fox News.
And realistically it is not possible to prevent rich people from trying to use their money to influence politics, but any system should try to reduce that possibility and reduce the need of candidates for huge campaign funds.
Not because it is inherently wrong for rich people to try to influence politics, but because every time you have public officials needing a lot of money for personal interests (in this case their (re)election) you open the door wider for corruption to creep in.

Right now the majority of those elected in either house is a millionaire, already a warning sign for money being a prerequisite for being succesful in politics and a class division gradually slipping into place. Many of those politicians leave a lot richer than they enter, which should set the alarm signals for widespread corruption blaring.

This proposal is one of the better ones to help slow down the slide of the USA towards banana republic status.

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By vector56, February 22, 2012 at 7:10 pm Link to this comment

Remember these are the “public” Airways and serving our Democracy is far more important than the profits of some narrow corporation.

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By vector56, February 22, 2012 at 6:14 pm Link to this comment

Michael Cavlan RN; as I live and breath!


Generally, I agree with Cavlan; but I offend wonder about the “citizen” who is swayed to vote against their own economic interest responding to wedge issues that never effect their lives?

Should “stupid” people vote? 

It almost seems as if some are proposing to “dumb down” Democracy to allow the lazy and uninformed to play.

As “citizens” we have a basic responsibility to know the issues, the players (or Congress people) and how the freaking game works!

Howard Zinn warned us not to trade our citizenship to become consumers. I agree the money should be out of politics (public financing); but equally, those who vote need to learn the responsibilities of citizenship.

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By heterochromatic, February 22, 2012 at 4:56 pm Link to this comment

the broadcasters would not be forced to air the ads for free, if I understand this
correctly. they would merely be prohibited from accepting a fee to air them….


I do believe that what the good Dr Cole intends is that ads simply wouldn’t be
aired at all in anything approaching the current amount.

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By Juan Cole, February 22, 2012 at 4:11 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The objection that the Supreme Court considers campaign donations to be a form of
speech is irrelevant here.  I am not proposing any controls on giving or speech.  The
change would be that broadcasters could not charge for that speech.  Since they are
public trustees it is reasonable for the FCC to make them do some public service
broadcasting..  It used to be required all the time before Reagan.

Report this

By hays00s, February 22, 2012 at 3:51 pm Link to this comment

As morally and ethically wrong as the current system is, this suggestion of forcing broadcasters to air campaign ads for free is just as wrong if not more.  The only difference is this is the opposite extreme of the current system and it says that people who already have money don’t have the same rights as people who don’t.

The broadcasters make too much money, obviously, but it’s their right to make money.  Any time taken from their programming costs them money because ads are how they make money.  So if the company doesn’t want to lose major money, they have to play the campaign ads at a time slot that doesn’t cost much.  But then no one will see it.  One of the reasons candidate pay so much is because prime time costs that much.  They want prime time because thats when the most people are watching.  Hence “prime time”.

This suggestion shows an absolute disregard for how any of the involved systems work.  Its not a fair compromise between all parties involved, its a childish idea that would have to be imposed in a very nazi type fashion.

A real solution that isn;t as self-righteous would be to limit the amount of airtime each candidate is allowed in an area.  Maybe cap the amount that each candidate is allowed to spend on television ads, thereby allowing them to decide if more time at lower ratings is better than less time at higher ratings.

These are simple suggestions that still fit into the broadcasters business model without going “police state government” and forcing them to give up their highest revenue time for free.

Some may say I am unjustly defending the money hording evil men who created this problem, but I just learned as a wee little child that 2 wrongs don’t make a right.  You may feel that it’s fine to compromise the ideals you claim to be fighting for because “the ends justify the means”, but thats what a lot of people have said to justify doing a lot of wrong in the name of “the greater good”.  Want to join them?

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By Staveros, February 22, 2012 at 3:26 pm Link to this comment

Getting money out of politics will take forever through the courts.  Here’s an idea, why not take the Grover Norquist approach and ask all candidates to sign a pledge to not take donations over say $50. Run independent candidates that will sign.  Be hard policing but it would be interesting seeing who would and who wouldn’t sign and the people would have a choice on an issue none of the current politicians want to address.

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By heterochromatic, February 22, 2012 at 2:52 pm Link to this comment

——-” The Federal Communications Commission should forbid television
broadcasters from charging for campaign ads”——-

an interesting idea and one that is possible in the case advertisements directly on
behalf of a candidate…......less likely on those slippery little “issue” ads.

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EmileZ's avatar

By EmileZ, February 22, 2012 at 2:29 pm Link to this comment

I think Juan Cole has got himself a pretty good idea.

However, I wish he would take it a bit further.

Really examine other good reasons to occupy the FCC, as our public airwaves are by and large being used to pump out mind-numbing commercially sponsored dis-information, but it gets pretty tricky there.

Perhaps we should attempt to ban political ads altogether. Yes I think that would be a great idea.

Then journalists could stop creating news stories out of commercials and everyone could stop bitching about negative ads. A small step in the right direction.

I also like the photo of Santorum communing with the big G or trying to control the weather, or whatever kind of heavy intense shit that is going on there.

He could be the one.

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By felicity, February 22, 2012 at 2:06 pm Link to this comment

The air waves should be regulated as a public utility. 
We regulate utilities to assure that the average person
can afford water, electricity, and gas - all necessary
to sustain life.

Regulating the air waves as a public utility would
assure that the average person has sufficient, true and
factual information so as to cast an informed vote.

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Lafayette's avatar

By Lafayette, February 22, 2012 at 12:54 pm Link to this comment

BASER INSTINCTS

JC: This conception of broadcasters as public trustees has been repeatedly upheld by the Supreme Court. The FCC could easily invoke this requirement to demand that campaign commercials be aired gratis.

Interesting argument, but it wont make it, with this present Supreme Court, beyond the court’s admirable way of turning “freedom of speech” into a defense of SaperPACs.

And that “freedom of speech” was a basic right not only of humans but corporations. Which just shows how elastic is our notion of Human Rights when thinking poltically - but only in America.

The Supremes have not understood that Freedom of Speech does not incorporate Freedom to Slander Publicly one’s political opponent. Defamation of character is typically forbidden under many state laws.

What is defamation? It is false and unprivileged spoken words or written publication, which exposes any living person to hatred, contempt, ridicule, or which causes him/her to be shunned or avoided, or which has a tendency to injure him/her in his/her trade or occupation.

From WikiP:

Most jurisdictions allow legal actions, civil and/or criminal, to deter various kinds of defamation and retaliate against groundless criticism. Related to defamation is public disclosure of private facts, which arises where one person reveals information that is not of public concern, and the release of which would offend a reasonable person. Unlike with libel, truth is not a defense for invasion of privacy.

It is unfortunate that, for some strange reason, we allow defamatory advertizing to pollute election campaigns. It is a sign of an immature democracy that indulges in applying to an electorate’s baser instincts.

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By MondoBizarro, February 22, 2012 at 12:35 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

With those billions of dollars at stake for the broadcasters, it’s clear that they
will never act as honest brokers on the issue of money in politics. And while Mr.
Cole’s ideas are appealing, they would ultimately fail under strict interpretations
of free speech rights.

Even if we could shorten the campaign season, and provide equal air time to all
candidates, what would prevent anyone with enough money from starting an
independent media production company and producing/airing commercials
espousing their point of view on any issue of the day?

We pridefully extend every right to speak one’s mind to every newspaper across
the land, yet a careful examination of the history of most news organizations
will reveal that they are little more than mouthpieces for the bazillionaires who
own them. For the purposes of free speech, what’s the difference between a
media mogul like Murdoch and gambling mogul like Adelson?

Assuming that the principal of free speech is inviolable, the only other real
solution to the problem of undue influence is to address the issue of undue
wealth. Limiting the personal wealth of individuals to say, 50 million dollars
would have little/no effect on incentivizing entrepreneurship in a capitalist
framework, but might offer tremendous benefits to our democratic process by
limiting the translation of wealth into power.

The ideal of extreme wealth, the untouchable wealth of industrial barons,
belongs to an outdated, gilded age conception of capitalism. It belongs to an
era of institutionalized slavery, oppression of women and minorities, labor
exploitation, and the unchecked destruction of natural resources. Perhaps it’s
time for capitalism to move on, to evolve into something more enlightened. The
founders of American constitutional democracy rejected political royalism as
categorically unjust. Isn’t it time to reject economic royalism for the same
reason?

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By Michael Cavlan RN, February 22, 2012 at 11:35 am Link to this comment

This gets really old.

The only way to get money out of politics is to

drum roll please

Support, work for and help advertise and promote candidates for office who do not take corporate money. There really is no other way now. It is that simple and direct. If your “progressive” blog refuses to do so, then find one that actually does allow articles them. Like firedoglake

Instead of those which only focus on the Republican Clown Car Circus. Which is a distraction from the real issue. Corporate money in the political system.

Obama- Goldmann Sachs
Romney- Bain Mutual

Black Romney
White Romney

Or….....

Have articles about Rocky Anderson for president

Michael Cavlan
Candidate US Senate 2012
Minnesota Open Progressives

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By litlpeep, February 22, 2012 at 11:24 am Link to this comment

Yes: “This conception of broadcasters as public trustees has been repeatedly upheld by the Supreme Court. The FCC could easily invoke this requirement to demand that campaign commercials be aired gratis.”

Yes, but: how do you propose to get the money out of the FCC?

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John M's avatar

By John M, February 22, 2012 at 10:42 am Link to this comment

Huntsman’s father is a billionaire he could have
stayed in he wasn’t getting votes - After all is said
and done a country of over 300 million will have spent
electing a president about the same amount of money as
America spends on ketchup or easter candy every year -
big deal - the solution to the problem is a one day
national primary - instead of disenfranchising millions
by having the candidate chosen before most voters
states get to vote have a national vote as we do for
president. problem solved

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By Jeff N., February 22, 2012 at 10:40 am Link to this comment

Forbid broadcasters from charging for campaign ads? Uhh.. what?  This suggestion lacks even a basic understanding of how a business works.  I hate to burst your bubble about repealing Citizens United Mr. Cole, but it ain’t gona happen.  Furthermore, elections have been bought off by corporations for over a century now.  Citizens United certainly adds a bit more fuel to the fire, but the basic premise is not new at all. 

When the average citizen can become engaged enough to realize the stupidity of basing their voting decision on a 30 second sound bite that has nothing to do with issues they care about, then we will be able to create change.  Until that point, sheep are going to behave like sheep, following whichever voice screams louder and more frequently during the commercial breaks of ‘American Idol’.

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By Lafayette, February 22, 2012 at 10:14 am Link to this comment

WE, THE SHHEPLE

JC: An increasingly large percentage of it pays for television and radio commercials, and it is used by our new aristocracy to keep pet candidates alive.

JC prompts us to ask the right question regarding the money spent. Namely, why does it have such an important impact upon voters.

How is it that mindlessly negative “propaganda” can have such a powerful impact upon public opinion as regards political class? How is it that it can sway public opinion with suppositions that are exaggerated, ill-founded and demagogic - appealing as it does to base prejudices rather than employing rational argumentation?

This reflects largely upon the body-politic as a whole are manipulated like ... sheeple.

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By balkas, February 22, 2012 at 8:51 am Link to this comment

i am not sure that politics and campaigns in US matter all that much.
i think that what matters a lot more than politics and politicians in usa
are the owners of america and thus of its people and in US people i
include army, fbi, cia, city police, judges, media, most ‘educators’, et al.
one could reduce all that show business to just a few days or lengthen
it to 2 yrs, spend a trillion or just a few dollars, but those who own the
store will run it anyway.
that’s why there is army, cia, fbi, and police. these people protect the
hand that feeds them.
and if anderson or stein would be elected they’d be killed if they
challenge the store owners in a way they disprove of.

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David J. Cyr's avatar

By David J. Cyr, February 22, 2012 at 6:29 am Link to this comment

QUOTE, Juan Cole:

“The Federal Communications Commission should forbid television broadcasters from charging for campaign ads”
_______________

Now, when the corporate party’s Democrats are worried that the (R) faction of their party might raise way more corporate campaign cash to manufacture consent and criminal complicity than (D)s will, they want free TV ads for all the corporate party’s (R) & (D) candidates.

If Democrats were democrats they wouldn’t be Democrats… and the general election “debates” wouldn’t exclude the natural person representing non-corporate candidates.

Jill Stein for President:

http://www.jillstein.org

Voter Consent Wastes Dissent:

http://chenangogreens.org/home/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=498&Itemid=1

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By Inherit The Wind, February 22, 2012 at 6:14 am Link to this comment

The old adage is “Be Careful What You Wish For!”
The corporations wanted to be able to fund campaigns and hide behind shell corporations when they did so in order to ensure guys like Romney would easily win nominations and elections.

But they didn’t figure on rich nuts like Foster Friese or Sheldon Adelson being able to disproportionately influence the whole primary race and keep a nut like Santorum and a psycho like Gingrich in it.  I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a secret donor behind Ron Paul as well, another nut.

Racism, misogyny, religious fanaticism would not have any place in this primary season without the SuperPacs.  Just think: the nomination of one of the major parties is TOTALLY controlled by less than 200 people, and all of them super-rich, with no interest beyond their own selfish or screwy ideas.  The Koch Brothers, Foster Friese and Adelson sometimes seem like Randall and Mortimer Duke from “Trading Places” come to life.

With this SC, I think Juan Cole is wrong: If the FCC attempts to shut down the use of air space, the Court will call that a limit on “Freedom of Speech” because they have ruled spending money is “Free Speech”.

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