If and until the Supreme Court does anything to remedy the disastrous Citizens United decision, or if an until a constitutional amendment banning corporate political spending passes, we are stuck with the super PAC. These dark money operations drive political advertising and help set the terms and the tone of popular political dispatch. That could spell bad news for women.
A recent report by CBS News shows that only about 20 percent of donations to outside groups like super PAC’s have come from women. Those donations added up to approximately $31,165,706 though almost half of that came from one woman, Miriam Adelson. Adelson’s husband is Sheldon Adelson, better known for shoveling cash to Newt Gingrich while his campaign was still alive.
While that number sounds low, it is actually representative of women’s presence in other areas of the public sphere, such as the percentage of women in Congress and the number of Fortune 500 firms run by female CEO’s. So that means that while women and women’s issues may dominate talking points, the conversation largely remains dominated by men. Until that changes and participation in terms of dollars to issues and offices held by women equalizes these issues will not evolve.
We know it can evolve. In fact, we’re witnessing that evolution already. Take the emergence of Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s media blitz around its endorsement of President Obama as an example. That campaign was made possible in part because of a donation from New York philanthropist Amy Goldman, one of the few women high on the list of super PAC donors.
Super PACs are our current political reality, unfortunately. And women have too much on the line in this election to ignore them which means we’re going to have to start spending.
Photo from jollyuk via flickr.