Hillary Clinton is navigating the post-Citizens United campaign finance world more deftly than anybody else. Her entire campaign is a constellation of the types of “Super PACs” enabled by the court ruling.
So when Hillary Clinton gets up and says “nobody is more committed to campaign finance reform than I am”, keep in mind that no currently viable candidate is benefitting more from the current state of campaign finance than she is.
It’s also obviously a flat lie. Lawrence Lessig has spent years doing nothing but trying to get Citizens United rolled back, dedicating 100% of his energy and his celebrity to a movement to amend the constitution to get rid of it. Bernie Sanders is also obviously more committed to fixing campaign finance reform, evidenced by the fact that he’s running a regular-ass presidential campaign, with its boring, pedestrian $2,300 contribution limits.
So you don’t even have to try that hard to find people who have already done more to fix campaign finance reform than she has, and who will likely continue to do more than she will.
I understand her argument, that Citizens United happened because of a court ruling on a right-wing attack on her campaign. I’ve written before how it’s frequently forgotten that Hillary: the Movie was more or less a litany of made-up garbage, which is a shame because it’s pretty easy to go after Hillary for her actual record.
But by structuring her entire campaign to take advantage of the ability to raise large, anonymous contributions that Citizens United created, she’s giving up any moral authority she would have otherwise had to speak on the issue.
And any argument that she’s just doing the prudent thing, given that she has to compete with the Republicans, for whom campaign finance reform isn’t even a blip on the radar, well, luckily, we have an example of how you can run a succesful national campaign without Super PACs — Bernie Sanders.
This feels stupid to write about, because of course she’s lying. It’s what politicians do. I guess what bothers me is to see people applauding like they actually believe what she’s saying, like they can’t see what’s right in front of them. Is it because they’re not looking? Is it because they don’t want to see?
This actually gets to the reason I have problems engaging in political debate generally. There’s an entire category of political debate based on back-and-forth sniping, rhetorical game-playing, and people trying to “win” a debate by “proving” some trivial point with a collection of bullet points, like arguing about the shadows on the cave wall. Where the debate totally departs the realm of reason and enters the realm of gut-level tribal affiliations, where perception of the real world is shaped to fit the emotional investment in your tribe.
This is where we’re at, already, and it’s only February.