The push to undo the Citizens United decision via a constitutional movement got some help yesterday as President Obama came out in support of an amendment that would strengthen Congress’s ability to stem the flood of money into our elections.
But the announcement coincided with another where President Obama said he would also, grudgingly, accept Super PAC money, a move many on the left characterized as a cave and leading pundits to question just how strong is the president’s commitment to getting big money out of politics really is.
First thing’s first. President Obama has been clear, since calling out the Roberts Court on the horrific decision in last year’s State of the Union address that unlimited corporate cash is destroying the democratic process. This is a position that, even after the SuperPAC announcement has not changed.
What has changed are the stakes. The 2008 presidential elections saw candidates spend over $1.7 billion, which at current pace in this election will be nothing but a drop in the bucket.
This leaves President Obama with two choices: unilaterally disarm and refuse SuperPAC dollars, knowing he will be outspent by about 10:1 in the general election or hold his nose, take the money, and advocate for a change to the system. If you are among those who are favor the first approach let me ask this: do you think President Romney or President Santorum will do anything to change campaign finance systems? Do you think any sitting Republican president will challenge the idea that corporations are people deserving of equal rights?
President Obama made the only choice he could to compete for re-election and set the issue up for real action. With a relentless attack on the middle class, women’s rights and a push for ever-increasing corporate control of our civic lives, the consequences of unilateral disarmament are simply too great.
Photo from tracyo via flickr.