I have spent a lifetime advocating campaign reform, and do so today. I also support Democratic groups such as Priorities USA, House Majority PAC and Majority PAC and their partner groups that accept large donations from undisclosed donors. Here’s why:
The campaign finance law should be changed, but until it is, both parties should play by the same rules. Vince Lombardi never suggested his Green Bay Packers should have three downs when they had the ball, while their opponents should have four.
The president elected in 2012 might well make Supreme Court appointments that will uphold, worsen or reverse campaign finance law. The most powerful way to achieve campaign reform, by far, is to reelect President Obama, which could bring the reversal of Citizens United .
Priorities USA is working to reelect the president. Majority PAC is working to maintain the Democratic Senate (which confirms nominees). House Majority PAC is working to restore Democratic control of the House (which must pass election laws). It is profoundly ironic, but profoundly true, that large and undisclosed donations that we might disapprove of, in theory, are the best way to eliminate them, in practice.
The victory by Rep.-elect Kathy Hochul in a heavily Republican district will generate new Democratic donors large and small, and dramatize the problem Republicans have when they take positions many voters believe are extreme.
Hochul’s victory suggests Democrats have a fair chance to reelect President Obama, restore Democratic control of the House and maintain Democratic control of the Senate. However, the GOP also has a chance to elect a Republican president, Senate and House and move even further right a Supreme Court that has already made decisions that reject judicial precedent and favor GOP partisans.
Republican and conservative financiers will continue to aggressively exploit current law through very large and undisclosed donations. I disagree with Karl Rove, members of the Koch family and others, but they are playing by the legal rules. Their Democratic and progressive counterparts should play by the same rules, or they surrender to Republicans a powerful advantage in a high-stakes election.
In my view the Citizens United decision was one of the most radical and wrongheaded decisions since the Supreme Court considered slavery. It is appalling that two justices made speeches that gave the appearance to many of grave conflicts of interest that should have required recusal.
I support a constitutional amendment to reverse the Citizens United decision and statewide initiatives to promote campaign reform and increase disclosure. Polling suggests these actions would be supported by large majorities of voters.
The 2012 election involves historically high stakes and could be decided by razor-thin margins of victory. These elections should not be decided because Republicans take legal donations and Democrats do not, or because Republican donors fight harder for victory than Democratic donors.
The GOP is dominated by a faction that demands obedience to policies that are extreme by the standards of every previous generation.
No Republican president or presidential nominee has ever suggested destroying Medicare and replacing Medicare with a subsidy that would create windfall profits for insurers and impose painful new costs on seniors. No Republican president has ever endorsed aggressive attacks against collective bargaining, which has long been viewed by both parties as integral to American society and prosperity.
Current GOP attacks against programs important to women, against consumer protection, against programs to create jobs and provide jobless benefits and against efforts to protect average investors who depend on retirement accounts are extreme by standards of historical Republicanism.
The moderate wing of the GOP is dead. Lincoln, Eisenhower, Ford and Theodore Roosevelt would be under siege in the GOP today. President Reagan counseled in his 11th Commandment that Republicans should not attack each other. But moderate Republicans today face vicious attacks from those waging ideological holy wars against them.
As the 2012 elections approach, this will be apparent to Democratic donors large and small. We are entering a political war for the ages. Every Democratic hand should be on deck.
Brent Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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