Remember that moment in the State of the Union address two years back when the president chided the Supreme Court justices in attendance about their appalling Citizens United decision, predicting that a tsunami of anonymous cash would flood elections? Justice Alito responded by silently mouthing the words, “not true.” Fast forward to 2012. As predicted by everyone but Alito, superpacs aligned with the candidates now dominate political spending. These beasts are allowed to raise and spend unlimited funds from donors who don’t have to reveal their identities, and they now outspend the actual campaigns by significant and growing margins. Technically, they are supposed to be independent of the candidates, but they are often, as is the case with Romney’s superpac (and one guesses Paul’s, Gingrich’s, and Obam’s, too) managed and staffed by the candidate’s former campaign workers. Thanks to the lack of transparency, we can’t know for certain, but it’s a good guess that most of that money doesn’t come from the elderly pensioner sending five bucks in the hope that Social Security checks will keep coming for a few more years, or from some poor guy who got laid off last year and whose mortgage is under water praying that some kind of foreclosure relief is on the way. If the tiny Iowa caucus is any guide , tens, perhaps hundreds of millions will be spent on the Republican primaries alone. And just wait until the main event is underway. The presidential campaign alone is likely to cost more more than $1 billion, and it’s expected that the entire 2012 election will result in campaign spending of more than $6 billion, the bulk of it doled out by anonymously-funded superpacs All of which raises the suspicion that the real candidates are the superpac donors, whoever they are, and that the entire election is just a vastly entertaining puppet show designed to distract us from what’s really going on behind the curtain. And the strings are invisible.
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