The Selling of the American Government

On November 2, 2010, Americans go to the polls to vote for a new Congress. The Senate is likely safe for the Democrats – the House of Representatives is another story. as of October 30th projects the Republicans winning 224 seats using their average of polls methodology. With 218 House seats needed for a majority and 40 races still a “toss up” this suggests that the Republican majority could be substantially larger.

Voter anxiety about jobs, and uncertainty about the federal response to the our economic woes, will likely result in substantial, off-year, Congressional election losses for the party in power – just as it did in 1982 and 1994. Two term Presidents Reagan and Clinton both suffered substantial losses at the polls during the economic downturns that plagued their first two years in office so this is not a new phenomenon.

What is new, though, is the impact of the Supreme Court’s ruling earlier this year in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ( In a 5-4 decision, the court extended First Amendment rights to corporations, including potentially, multinational corporations controlled by non-US citizens and foreign governments.

With major segments of our media today already under the control of right wing ideologues – the Supreme Court ruling has resulted in our airwaves being flooded by organizations like Citizen’s United and Karl Rove’s American Crossroads, which have funneled hundreds of millions of dollars from anonymous right-wing donors in support of what is arguably the most extreme group of Congressional Republican candidates in several generations.

In theory, corporate stockholders and customers could provide a counterweight to unfettered corporate political spending, but in this current election, most donations are being kept secret. And Senate Republicans blocked by filibuster the Disclose Act, the Democrats’ attempt to increase transparency into corporate and special interest money flowing into political campaigns.

The Disclose Act would have required organizations running political ads and campaigns to disclose the identity of large donors. The Act would have also banned political contributions by foreign corporations, government contractors, and entities receiving TARP funds.

Jonathan Cykman, Basic PLUS Author

About cykman

Jon Cykman works in Washington, DC as a consultant, and is long-time student of American Politics. He started out handing out campaign materials for Hubert Humphrey during the campaign of 1968, and later went on to earn a B.A. in Political Science from the State University of New York, College at Purchase in 1978, and an M.A. in Public Affairs from the University of Texas, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs in 1980. Jon retired from Federal Service after 31 years of service, and lives with his family in Catonsville, MD.
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