We made it past the three-ring circus that kicked off the Republican primaries. Now, as the remaining candidates get closer to taking Obama head on, it’s getting ugly and we don’t have Bachmann for comic relief. The remaining candidates are serious, and so are their supporters. And so are the Super PACs who will flood the public discourse with the shitstorm of advertising and infotainment that will hammer down on us for the next nine months. Steven Colbert has been doing excellent work getting us to think about this. He argues here: If campaign contributions directly reflected election results, this year’s will be decided by 22 billionaires (that is, 22 individual donors who make up over 50% of money spent). Following Colbert’s logic, the decision is not made by the vote but by owning the means of public discourse. Even if you recognize this is not direct disenfranchisement (though the Republicans are doing that, too), it is fair to call it an undue influence. In these proportions (over 50%!), these are not just injections of cash and a bit of trash-talking.
It structures the debate. Whatever words we use to talk about the elections have traces of this money in them. Read the rest of this entry »