Pro-Israel lobby groups have spent “shocking” amounts of money to change the course of multiple Democratic congressional primaries over the past year alone, reports our guest Peter Beinart. The latest is in Maryland, where former Congressmember Donna Edwards is being outspent sevenfold by corporate attorney Glenn Ivey in her bid to win back her old seat in the state’s 4th Congressional District. Beinart, the editor-at-large of Jewish Currents, says the AIPAC-led PACs disguise their attack ads with local issues but in reality are designed to oust candidates who take stances in support of Palestinian rights and working people.
When I saw that many ads, translating to that many dollars, against Edwards, I knew dubious actors were involved.
I never thought that the large campaign funder I would have to worry about most would be AIPAC. If you are progressive and also pro-Israel, you may be giving money that is being used to defeat your favorite candidates!!! We in the Jewish community have to do something about this!!! It isn’t OK. Besides pushing back at AIPAC we have to get rid of Citizens United which allows these huge contributors. Please support the Move to Amend congressional bill and encourage your congressperson to co-sponsor.
Just in case no one has connected the dots. The biggest campaign donors, also happen to be the biggest subsidy recipients. This is a strategy by politicians to insure a steady source of campaign funds for their reelection.
The US taxpayer gifts the State of Israel around $4 billion per year, every year, as well as rolling no interest loans. Israeli citizens enjoy free healthcare, essentially free education through the graduate college level, old age pensions and retirement insurance, children’s allowances, long term care, paid maternity leave, and countless other social welfare programs. Why does Congress subsidize a social safety net for all Israelis that it refuses to subsidize for Americans?
Progressives aren’t against Israel as a nation or Jews as a people, but rather against the ultra-right-wing government there and the apartheid system that is in place there.AIPAC has to be force to register as a foreign agent under the FARA act. I’m amazed that they’ve been able to operate so openly deciding the outcome of American election while they are a advocating policies of a foreign nation.
Celebrate the Citizens United Decade
The ruling has empowered small-dollar donors and political outsiders, not corporations.
‘Last week,” President Obama declared a decade ago, “the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests—including foreign corporations—to spend without limit in our elections.”
Mr. Obama was wrong in almost every respect about Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which the court decided on Jan. 21, 2010. Hysterical predictions about Citizens United—then-Rep. Ed Markey, among others, compared it to Dred Scott—haven’t held up.
Contrary to Mr. Obama’s assertion about a century of law, Citizens United overturned portions of McCain-Feingold, a campaign-finance law that wasn’t even 10 years old, and another law from 1947. Those laws prohibited unions and corporations, including nonprofits, from voicing support for or opposition to candidates for federal office.
Citizens United didn’t affect the longstanding ban on corporate contributions to candidates, and it didn’t legalize foreign political spending in the U.S. Most Russian online ads in 2016 would have been protected under the First Amendment even before Citizens United, because the ads didn’t urge a vote for or against a candidate.
Far from handing power to the 1%, Citizens United unleashed rapid political diversification. Since the ruling, the White House or Congress has changed parties in every federal election except 2012. Twenty eighteen saw the highest midterm voter turnout in a century. Small-dollar donors are more coveted than ever. Donald Trump raised more money from donors who gave less than $200 than any candidate in history.
Since Citizens United, party outsiders such as Mr. Trump and Bernie Sanders have risen to national prominence. And money hasn’t been able to buy elections as predicted. Sheldon Adelson donated record amounts to Republican super PACs in 2012 but failed to prevent strong Democratic victories. Democrats Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg came up empty after putting huge sums of money behind climate change and gun control.
Hillary Clinton outspent Mr. Trump 3 to 1 in 2016. Congressional leaders and big-time fundraisers such as Reps. Eric Cantor (R., Va.) and Joe Crowley (D., N.Y.) lost their seats to primary challengers who spent a fraction of what the incumbents did. Incumbent re-election rates in the House never dipped below 94% from 1996 to 2008, but did in 2010, 2012 and 2018.
Citizens United deserves a share of credit for all these trends. The decision made it easier to promote (or criticize) a candidate without help from party leaders or media elites.
Perhaps the worst prediction was that Citizens United would allow a corporate takeover of democracy. The New York Times accused the justices of having “paved the way for corporations to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections” and “thrust politics back to the robber-baron era of the 19th century.”
A decade later, most spending comes from the same place it always has: individuals who donate directly to candidates, up to legally limited amounts. Corporations contribute well under 10% of federal political spending, Their voice is not dominant—and voters have a right to hear it. Justice Anthony Kennedy and his colleagues didn’t hold that “money is speech” or “corporations are people.” The ruling was part of a healthy shift in favor of free speech in politics—a trend that began with 2007’s Wisconsin Right to Life v. FEC, and continued through 2014’s McCutcheon v. FEC.
The questions is whether the justices think their work is done. If they truly want to empower democracy, they should continue to look skeptically at regulation of campaign finance. Political speech, after all, is at the core of the First Amendment’s protection.
Mr. Smith served as chairman of the Federal Election Commission, 2001-05, and is chairman of the Institute for Free Speech.
Timothy Snyder Speaks, ep. 3: What is Oligarchy?
What does oligarchy mean? In the third episode of “Timothy Snyder Speaks,” historian and author Timothy Snyder explores the meaning of oligarchy, where it came from, how it endangers us — and how it connects the United States and Russia.
Trailer for Celsius 41.11
The truth behind the lies of Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11. See more at http://www.celsius4111.com