Letters to the Editor

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POLITICS: Monied interests given a megaphone

Letter by Michael O'Connor, Gig Harbor on June 19, 2012 at 5:33 pm | 31 Comments »
June 20, 2012 10:04 am

Re: “Voters should beware of super PAC money” (letter, 6-16).

The writer had some good comments about super PACs but didn’t go far enough. The U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision allows unlimited campaign spending by groups with huge resources.

The ruling equated political spending with free speech and gave these groups the same free speech rights as individual citizens. In doing so it may have honored pure free speech principles but, I think, did a great disservice to our democracy.

In a political system where each citizen is free to speak his opinion, the court has given a megaphone to these groups. So now we have the super PACs – groups that can gather money from businesses, unions and political campaigns (disassociated from the candidate of course) without limit and spend it anonymously to flood our airwaves with negative ads full of lies and innuendo.

In the age of electronic media, our citizens seem to be making decisions based on short sound bites from the Internet and talking heads on radio and TV rather than reading available in-depth coverage of issues in print news media or even the voters pamphlet. How else to explain Dale Washam’s election?

The combination of unlimited PAC spending and limited voter self-education puts us at risk of relinquishing informed decision-making to unscrupulous demagogues. The Supreme Court has forgotten that the basis of democracy is the individual citizen, not whoever has the most money.

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