In Iowa's presidential scramble, the biggest players were not the candidates, but an insidious, ever-growing force that the voters couldn't even see: corporate cash.
Welcome to the Brave New Political World created out of thin air by the Supreme Court two years ago. In their now infamous Citizens United decision, the Court's five-man majority of laissez-faire ideologues decreed that corporations can funnel unlimited sums of money into nondescript, independent electioneering committees, dubbed "superPACs."
These outfits are then free to bombard voters with nonstop attack ads to defeat candidates (and issues) they don't like. In Iowa, an unprecedented $12.5 million went into the campaigns — two-thirds of that was spent by not by the candidates, but by these superPACs.
The Court theorized that superPACs would operate entirely independently from their favored candidates. What a fantasy! In fact, the candidates themselves have dispatched their top staffers and millionaire funders to create and run superPACs on their behalf, so "separation" is a legalistic fraud.
Second, although they operate under such benign names as Mitt Romney's "Restore Our Future PAC" and Rick Perry's "Make Us Great Again PAC," these conduits of corporate money have become the nuclear bombs of viciously negative campaigning, sliming opponents with attacks. The Supremes also theorized that superPACs would report the names of their donors, but — surprise — most are steadfastly refusing to do so.
So, by hurling the Citizens United monkeywrench into America's democratic machinery, the court has put secret corporate money in charge of our elections, drastically increased negative campaigning, and dangerously hidden the identity of candidates and funders who are gaily conspiring to buy public office.
Let's stop this thievery. To help repeal Citizens United, go online to united4thepeople.org.
Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow, on sale now from Wiley Publishing. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.