It was reported in the Boston Globe (June 24, 2012, P. B1) recently that the state Republican Party revoked the delegate status of 17 Republican delegates. Why? They had refused to sign an oath of support to Mitt Romney. Massachusetts, of course, voted overwhelmingly for Romney as the Republican candidate but state Republican party rules do not bind delegates, nor does it require any oath of allegiance. The state party decided that had to be changed. Why? The 17 delegates in question were supporters of Ron Paul.
What state party leaders fear is that the Paul delegates, once at the Republican Convention, would draw attention to Paul’s agenda. That, of course, has the possibility of gaining support from delegates of other states at the convention and bring on unwanted turmoil. This is nothing new, of course, but it is showing the power of the super-pacs who now seem to control our election process.
To be fair, I think the same sort of process exists within the Democrat Party but since it is not looking for a candidate this year, it is not nearly so important that party doctrine be held in lock-step at their Republican counterparts seem to need.
This really started about 1994 when Republican party leaders demanded that all congressional members sign their “Contract With America.” On the outside it seemed not only harmless, but a truly good thing. Much of what the contract contained were statements that seemed entirely common sense. But it served as a vehicle to reign in party members in the future. By the time of Pres. Bush’s first election party leadership brought in their “our way or the highway” by threatening the withholding of election funding. It has been, to say the least, effective.
The point is, Americans have allowed the election process to be co-opted by extremely well-financed political action committees. These committees, both conservative and liberal, set agendas. And now we have the “super-PACs” to deal with. These PACs have made public financing of campaigns irrelevant. That means, a single person or business can give as much money as it wants to a PAC that is not directly supporting any single political candidate. How have the gotten around that? Simple. They launch attack ads against opponents’ ideas without ever mentioning the candidate they support.
Campaign Finance Reform of many years ago was designed to keep this exact thing from happening, but there are truly gifted and talented people who can find a hole in a seeminly solid slab. They have an army of lawyers on the ready, as well, to back up their position should they be challenged.
I fear we are becoming a country where puppets of well-placed people do their bidding in the halls of Congress. Our elected officials only get there after they have been vetted by rich and powerful groups. Simply put, the best candidate for office will never get past the nominating process if he/she does not sign on the line with the PACs that support their party. If Abraham Lincoln had to run his campaign then, as things are now, he would never have been supported. He was an unknown from Illinois who was not presently in public office and who had only once served a two-year term as an Illinois representative. Family problems that become known once he was president would have served as fodder for his opponent.
We cannot allow our political system to be taken over by the rich and powerful. This is at the heart of what the founders of this country feared. Such had been the case in 1775 England when the Lords of English Parliament held a deaf ear to their American cousins. And that, as much as anything, is what is at the heart of our Constitution. No other country had regularly scheduled elections as we do here in America, a purposeful design of the constitution. No other country in the world has the absolute separation of powers, legislative, executive, and judicial, as we do in America. And nowhere else is the power of the people so heavily invested in the words of a constitution as is in ours.
The PACs and super-PACs serve only to undermine those powers for their own selfish purposes. PACs do serve a good purpose but their power and sway have got to be brought into check. They wield far too much power in our elections and now, seemingly, hold the power of who, at the very least, will be that party’s nominee to any elective office. This is a serious affront to the ideals that Washington, Jefferson, Adams, and so many others fought for. It is time Americans became not just angry, but furious with the way the PACs are conducting themselves, and in turn, affecting our sacred political process.