Voluntary Bribery? Political Action Committees by definition are associations of individuals who, exercising the First Amendment rights of political speech and association, advance their political and/or ideological goals by pooling their resources to make contributions and/or expenditures to affect the outcome of an election (www.pacfinder.com). The fact that corporate America determines the outcomes of our elections, influences our law makers’, and has all but total control over our government has been greatly concealed from the American public. The reason for this concealment is because Superclass leaders prefer to keep the existence of and details about the extent of their class-based power out of sight. Also, the above definition does not suggest that corporations are one of these superclass powers and that they have influence over political campaigns/elections. The truth however, of their existence in this process is clearly evident to the person who is seeking it.
As former president Woodrow Wilson once observed, the masters of the government of the United States are the combined capitalists and manufacturers of the U.S. (The New Class Society, Pg. 103). President Wilson’s comments although correct, were frowned upon by the superclass and thusly his works and achievements have been greatly marginalized by the privileged-class-controlled mass media. This suggests that our elected officials are merely representatives of the superclass and once they act in a manner representing the working or poor-classes their power and influence is quickly undermined or outright removed.
Current day political campaigns can be thought of as battles to an extent. The days of a person fighting for what he believes in are over. Times have shown the person with the most money and backers wins an election today. When we see a person on television running for a particular office, we just see him. What the vast majority of people do not see and are not allowed to see, are the smiling faces of the large corporate sponsors standing in the shadows. These sponsors are not interested in the welfare of the people nor do they believe in their candidate’s ideas.
These sponsors are merely interested in maintaining or increasing their influence over our society. The history of PACs dates back to the 1940’s during the election years of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s unprecedented election to a third White House term. During this election President Roosevelt was given large gifts of money from the United Mine Workers of America, which helped him easily win over other less funded presidential candidates. By the time he sought a fourth term he had already had the full financial support of the UMOA however, a law had been passed to ban gifts of money from such organizations.
The president of the United Mine Workers at the time was a man named John L. Lewis. Lewis sidestepped the ban by establishing the National Citizen’s Political Action Committee to collect voluntary contributions from mineworkers and others. Instead of using labor union treasury funds, he used NCPAC’s funds to make contributions to Roosevelt’s campaign. Today, such groups are called PACs for no reason other than that was what the first one choose to call itself (www.pacfinder.com).
In 1974, when Congress was debating a post-Watergate version of the Federal Election Campaign Act, Rep. George Hansen (R-Idaho) successfully attached an amendment to the measure that gave birth to explosive growth in PAC sponsorship by corporations and trade associations. The Hansen Amendment made clear that corporations and trade associations could use their treasury funds to finance the administrative and fundraising solicitation costs of a PAC, in much the same manner as labor unions had already been doing for several decades (www.pacfinder.com). There has always been an implied relationship between corporations and lawmaker decisions due to the fact that most PACs and political officials are connected and are both based in Washington, D.C. The implication is actually a reality but the superclass’s second tier autonomous representatives, including lawyers and specialists are quick to suppress any hard evidence of this influence or their existence. If one was to compare the Fortune 500’s list of the largest and most powerful corporations in America and the Federal Government’s list of the top 100 PACs and their associated corporations, one would find the two list to be almost identical. This is no surprise to these corporations; it would however be a surprise to the American public if they were given this information directly.
The national media, including television and printed literature, has been long been controlled by members of the superclass. The things we read in the newspaper and see on television greatly affect our opinion of important matters because it is the only information we are given directly. The superclass uses the knowledge of this fact to control our opinions on a daily basis. The idea of slavery has been long forgotten but in actuality we are all slaves to the superclass. It is amazing when once considers that despite commanding huge resources, great power, and high status, the superclass is still a relatively small group.
They group exercises control over enormous levels of investment capital and tends to intersect or overlap with the wealthiest 1 percent of all Americans (The New Class Society, Pg. 108). Most Americans do not realize the costs associated with running for office. The amount of cash required for obtaining the Presidency of the United States has topped out at $112 million. Ross Perot or Steve Forbes aside, where does one get the kind of money needed to compete in a presidential election? The answer is not suprising, most election contributions are primarily given by individuals, who are no doubt the leaders of the superclass and from corporate and trade PACs. These contributions are not made out of faith, moreover they are made to influence if not ensure their financial status and control over our society.
In regards to such persons as Steve Forbes, sometimes the candidates and the wealthy contributors are the same person. In congressional and presidential races, wealthy candidates sometimes legally finance their own campaigns. Opinions are only opinions until they are proven as facts. The fact is during the 1995-96 campaigns over 4,000 PACs disbursed $400+ million, but the corporate PACs plus the trade and membership associations and health PACs (most with close corporate links) accounted for more than 50 percent of that total. Also, since 1980 more than 70 percent of the contributions to the Democratic and Republican parties alike have come from corporations. Of course, corporate PACs are not the only players in the campaign funding game, but compared with their most obvious competitors such as organized labor and public citizen groups, they are by far the largest and best funded groups (The New Class Society, Pg.155).
The result of all of the political fund raising and lobbying by major corporations: A society of zombies who are deceived on a daily basis, influenced by the media, and ultimately controlled by the superclass. So where does the endless cycle of bribery, control, and influence stop? The answer is simple, it never will. The superclass will never relinquish its power nor will it ever stop positioning itself to be in control over every aspect of our lives. Bibliography www.pacfinder.com , The New Class Society Sociology.