Citizens United is an organization in the United States that does not operate on profit and that focuses on conservatism. The scenario that is commonly related to the organization is the particular Supreme Court Case ‘Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission,” which attempted to ascertain the legality of specific aspects of campaign finance. The ruling that was made in the case influenced numerous practices that can be condoned during the election period. The 2012 elections are similarly projected to be influenced majorly by Citizens United based on the various changes that it has caused in the election system.
Citizen United’s mission is described to be dedication to the restoration of the government of the United States to the control of the ‘citizens’. In addition, it is committed to asserting American values that are linked to freedom of enterprise, national sovereignty and safety and also limited administration (Wang, 2012). Efforts to ensure this mission is fulfilled include undertaking of a number of educational projects like advertisements in the media, through televisions.
The Supreme Court decision in 2010 made several changes on election legislations. The major change is the permission to corporations to offer unregulated electioneering contributions from their general treasury funds to particular candidates vying for political positions as well as causes that are politically inclined (Toobin, 2012). As a result of this and other key changes, the November 2012 election is projected to be characterized by a completely new wave of exceptional election spending as well as negative campaigning.
Spending by outside groups that aim to influence the outcomes of an election or that support a specific candidate has been increasing since corporations got the freedom to contribute funds in the election campaign process (Wang, 2012). By November 2012 this outside spending is predicted to have reached extraordinary levels. The total spending through March 8 in individual cycles of election shows a trend that can be used to predict the amount of outside spending in the 2012 election. Comparing election cycles for several years, outside spending through March 8 in 2012, amounts to slightly less than 90 million U.S. dollars (Millhiser, 2012). This amount is double that spent in the 2008 election in a similar cycle. Another indicator of the possible extreme outside spending, influenced by Citizens United, is the over nine times increase in outside spending between the 2006 congressional election year and the 2010 congressional election year. Also, it is apparent that Citizen United is leading to increased outside spending whereby in 2010 the spending reached approximately 15.9 million dollars, a figure that is considerably high compared to the 1.8 million dollars that was spent in the 2009 midterm cycle (Millhiser, 2012).
Conservative groups are the ones majorly involved in this change in outside spending and these groups alone will most probably spend finances in excess of a billion dollars in their efforts to take down the current President, Barack Obama. Many citizens share the Sentiment that Citizen United has resulted in release of millions of funds from businesses and the multimillionaires that run these businesses and created the potential of American politics being taken over by corporations (Toobin, 2012). Previously, corporations were restricted from contributing to a candidate or party in the election process. Now corporations are free to contribute finances and make a direct case regarding who deserves to be voted for and why and this can be done any time up to the election date.
There is an alternate view that can be used to explain the increase in outside spending in recent years during election periods. The amount of outside money used rose by 164% between 2004 and 2008 and rose 135% between the next election period (2008 and 2012) (Bai, 2012). This means that even though outside spending has increased after Citizen United got in action, the proportion of change from the 2004 to the 2008 to the 2012 presidential elections has maintained at a significantly consistent level since the McCain-Feingold was passed (Bai, 2012). This approach also shows that it was expected for outside spending to increase in major way with or without Citizen United. Although McCain-Feingold did not intend for this consequence to happen, political might has been migrating from within the party structure to outside it since it was passed.
The analysis, therefore, that attributes the rise in outside spending solely to Citizen United ignores the fact that this election period (2010 through 2012) are the first election cycles since the McCain-Feingold was enacted whereby the White House is occupied by a Democrat (Bai, 2012). Rich Conservatives are therefore inspired and propelled to invest their fortunes to a president and legislative agenda that they are completely against. It is hence apparent that even without Citizen United, the common enemy that conservatives have during this election will cause them to mobilize their entire wealth.
The impact of Citizen United in altering the balance between the republican and democratic parties permanently might therefore not be the determining factor. Some argue that Republicans will probably get a structural advantage that is hard to overcome because of the corporate money. Between 2004 and 2006, outside spending was dominated by liberals and similarly, if Romney becomes president, the same case would happen (Bai, 2012).
Negative campaigning is also an impact expected to result from Citizen United. Fueling massive funds by major corporations into the campaign process may lead to donations that have an underlying hidden agenda. Foul play may enter the picture and in the process introduce negative reasons for supporting and funding parties as well as individual candidates. The influence of money in the presidential elections has grown exponentially because of Citizen United (Stones, 2012). This negative campaigning can be seen in the recent allegations presented by Roger Stones (Republican strategist) regarding the reason behind the support of the Koch brothers in the Romney campaign.
Koch brothers, as claimed by stones, released their full energy and resources to the Romney campaign so that Paul Ryan can be picked as Romney’s running mate. The allegations point to July 22 as the day that 100 million dollars was pledged by David Koch in support to SuperPACs as well as C-4s as long as Ryan got picked (Stone, 2012). The interest in Ryan is partly because he is best known for championing for ‘top-heavy economic policies’ hence Koch brothers would make much money if he got in office because of policies such as elimination of capital gains tax (Stones, 2012). Additionally, if Koch support Ryan to be picked and Ryan plays a key role in the election of Romney as the president, then the Kochs will have sealed a significant amount of leverage over Romney’s administration.
In conclusion, Citizen United is expected to impact on the 2012 presidential elections in several ways although the major influence will be on amount of outside spending in the elections. This, however, has been contested as a possible occurrence with or without Citizen United since statistics show a trend in increase of outside spending since the McCain-Feingold was enacted. Another impact in the elections is expected to be negative campaigning which can be illustrated by the recent allegations made by Stones regarding Koch brothers and the Romney campaign.
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