Resolutions still not the way to get rid of super PAC law
By Jeff Ward For The Courier-News November 18, 2012 9:22PM
donnell collins/staff photographer Jeff Ward.
Updated: December 20, 2012 6:10AM
Some advice: Never go after the hippies for engaging in pointless symbolic gestures unless you want them to come after you with a pointless symbolic gesture.
While I admire the Fox Valley Citizens for Peace and Justice for acquiring all the requisite signatures, the fact their anti-PAC money referendum passed means only slightly more than nothing.
You may as well stand on that Route 31 bluff and spit toward the river.
Of course, then my favorite activists (we probably shouldn’t call ’em hippies) tried to get the Elgin City Council to issue a resolution similarly condemning super PACs for the heinous scoundrels those court-sanctioned human equivalents they really are.
Thankfully, Mayor David Kaptain heeded my Oct. 29 column contention by agreeing that making one meaningless resolution always leads to another and, before you know it, you can’t stop making them.
Riled to fervent symbolic action once again, two FVCPJ members issued stern letters to the editor condemning me for condemning them for condemning super PACs. Abbott and Costello would be proud.
Kaye Gamble of Sleepy Hollow lamented that “$6 billion” in PAC money favored special-interest groups and not economy-stricken average individuals.
“Passing a resolution would be a grass-roots effort at its best …,” Kaye wrote. “(B)ut with the Elgin City Council passing a resolution along with other cities, they could help push Illinois legislators to pass legislation calling for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would overturn Citizens United. That would be most meaningful!”
No, it wouldn’t! That’s because you can resolve and proclaim until you’re blue in the face, but as long as politicians benefit from all that PAC money, nothing’s gonna change. Not only that, but the FVCPJ’s basic PAC premise is utterly flawed.
The evidence is simple.
Despite untoward billions of dollars being thrust upon this election cycle, we have the same president, the same Senate, the same House, and most likely, the same gridlock. All that vast and opposing PAC money did, like “Star Trek” matter meeting antimatter, was cancel each other out.
Of the $300 million Karl Rove’s Crossroads super PAC spent on conservative causes, only 1.2 percent of it bore fruit. Even orange man group member Donald Trump tweeted, “Congrats to @KarlRove on blowing $400 million cycle. Every race @CrossroadsGPS ran ads in, the Republicans lost. What a waste of money.”
The phrase “epic fail” certainly seems to apply.
The lone ironic shift is we know have a record 20 female senators and 81 congresswomen. And the corporate PAC money certainly wasn’t backing them. When you consider how poorly the pasty old white men have been doing, I, for one, welcome the change.
Then Joni Lindgren of Elgin took me to task for opposing their specific resolution. But that’s not the truth. I wasn’t opposing the FVCPJ’s move; I was opposing ALL meaningless resolutions. There is a difference.
“Just how does Ward think good candidates who support the middle-class values will be able to afford to run for office when there is all this money from the opposition ‘trying him in the Court of TV,’ ” Lindgren continued.
I can’t think of any candidate who embodies middle-class values more than Tammy Duckworth. Despite being outPACed 13 -1 by opponent Joe Walsh, she handed him his pasty posterior on a silver platter.
Walsh supporters ended up spending $70 per vote to go down in 9-point flames. And Duckworth would’ve beaten him even if he hadn’t offered us his fascinating insights into the female reproductive system.
Our GOP firebrand would’ve been gotten more votes simply by standing on the corner of East Chicago Street and Woodview Drive in Elgin and passing out $20 bills.
Like anything else in this existence, when negative TV ads finally hit overkill proportions, we simply tuned them out as so much white noise. Some things take care of themselves.
But since the hippies — I mean activists — missed it the first time, I’ll repeat myself. A resolution may make you feel better, but real change requires real work. And getting some pandering city council to agree with you is not “grass-roots”; it’s the height of lazy activism. If they invalidated the Citizens United decision today, the Koch brothers would still find a way to infuse their money into the process. Since campaign finance change will only come from within, a true grass-roots movement would consist of building a third-party infrastructure, getting precinct committeemen elected, and slating credible candidates.
At least the tea party made a half-hearted effort before they went completely off the deep end.
But even they gave up on it because it requires patience and effort. A city council resolution? Not so much.
You can reach Jeff Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org