I’ve written before on what a disaster the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case has been. Yesterday’s election, and the campaign leading up to it, again emphasized how that decision has fundamentally changed and degraded the American political process. While it’s true that in some cases a candidate or ballot measure won in spite of being badly outspent, I don’t think it shows that money has no influence. To use a sports analogy, if I had gone into the boxing ring against Muhammed Ali when he was in his prime, and he started the fight with one hand tied behind his back, there is little question in my mind that he’d still win easily. Likewise, when a candidate or ballot measure is so obviously superior, large amounts on money won’t necessarily save the inferior candidate or issue position.
This brings me to another analogy (also from sports) that I think shows clearly why Citizens United was wrongly decided. We all know that Lance Armstrong was a great athlete. We also now know that he used steroids to enhance his performance. Whether he could have won his many championships without using steroids is, at this point, impossible to say. However, I think virtually everyone would agree that for him to use steroids in a situation that gave him an unfair advantage was wrong.
I would suggest that allowing a candidate or political committee to raise, donate, or spend unlimited funds, and especially to allow that to happen without anyone knowing where that money is coming from is like allowing someone to go up to Lance Armstrong as he prepared for a race and inject him with a needle-full of lord knows what kind of drug. That’s not allowed in sports, and it shouldn’t be allowed in politics.