We think only China would somehow invest in the campaigns of Congressmen or the President. Would it were true. More nations than China have a vested interest in the outcome of our national elections. For one thing, rather than back room donations, simple ads placed in states could help sway voter sympathy.
[T]hanks to holes in our disclosure law that neither Congress nor the Federal Election Commission will fix, this kind of foreign spending could easily be hidden from public scrutiny by clever campaign finance lawyers. We might not even know what nation the money has come from.
The recent Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance does not improve matters:
As a result of a US Supreme Court judgement, known as the “citizens united” ruling, outside groups such as corporations and unions can now raise and spend unlimited money as long as they do not coordinate with the candidate.
The ruling is being challenged in a number of cities. Critics of it say it empowers corporations with their vast treasure chests over individual donors. The Supreme Court says money is a form of free speech, but critics argue that corporations are not people and therefore do not have the same right to free speech.
Another criticism is that candidates are less likely to be held accountable when negative advertisements are funded by outside interest groups on their behalf. [alJazeera.org]
Would that this is an argument had been better known nationally and forcefully made before the Court’s decision:
The Constitution is not a suicide pact, and the First Amendment does not require the U.S. and its citizens to entertain threats to its sovereignty in the name of free speech. The Supreme Court should not hear the Bluman case. It should affirm the district court and not compound the error that the justices made in Citizens United. [NY Times]
The next 2-term President will have to handle the transition of power and leadership in the world from the US to China.
China’s rising global role, increasing assertiveness and upcoming leadership transition may pose significant challenges for the next U.S. president, says Elizabeth C. Economy, CFR’s C.V. Starr Senior Fellow and Director for Asia Studies. “China is increasingly shaping the world in which we live,” Economy says. As a result, U.S.-China relations will no longer be focused exclusively on trade, Taiwan, and human rights. The next president will have to work with China on “virtually every global challenge,” she says, including Iran, North Korea, global financial regulation, and climate change.
U.S. officials will have to take account of China’s newly assertive posture, regionally and globally, she says. “China’s leaders no longer simply want to export their goods and services; they want to export their culture, their values, and ideals,” Economy says. “And the next president of the United States is going to have to think about how to deal with not an emerging power, but a global power.” [CFR.org]
The bottom line here is our elections are decided long before we get involved. True there are wealthy individuals around but it is the big corporations and other countries that really make the difference. We need to change our campaign financing laws. We need to get real about what free speech was originally intended to encompass. Our freedoms and free speech are being slowly eroded on the internet yet super pacs are selecting Presidents and Congressmen for us. This not the democracy the founding fathers envisioned. They would be horrified as are we who cherish the Constitution.