In Citizens United v. FEC, the Supreme Court recognized that “the right of citizens to inquire, to hear, to speak, and to use information to reach consensus is a precondition to enlightened self-government and a necessary means to protect it.” Our important win empowered ALL Americans by giving them additional information going into the elections. If it were not for the Citizens United decision, I fear Republican losses would have been much greater on Election night.
In 2008, Senator McCain got heavily out-spent and lost big. In that election cycle, President Obama raised $730 million to John McCain’s $383 million. The Obama campaign buried John McCain with television ads. John McCain took in $84 million in public financing, while President Obama went back on his word and did not take any public financing, which severely hampered McCain.
In 2012, thanks to Citizens United, the race was waged on a more level playing field. According to preliminary reports, President Obama and Governor Romney, combined with their affiliated outside groups, each spent roughly $1 billion on the race. Of the $1 billion spent by the Romney campaign or its affiliates nearly $410 million was from outside groups.
On Tuesday night, Governor Romney lost the raw popular vote by 3 million out of 121 million total votes cast. If groups like Karl Rove’s American Crossroads and Americans for Prosperity were not around this cycle, I believe Mitt Romney would have lost the popular vote by a massive amount and our hold on the House of Representatives would have slipped away. Governor Romney and his affiliated groups were able to go toe to toe with President Obama.
The Washington Post said in its after action report:
“If either Romney or Obama had held a substantial cash advantage, it is possible that one candidate could have dominated in the final weeks of the campaign. But the two camps were roughly evenly matched by the end.”
People bemoan money in politics, but political speech flourished in 2012 and there is nothing wrong with that. To put things into perspective, in 2010 Coca-Cola’s advertising budget was $2.9 billion and McDonalds’ was $2.3 billion. If Coca-Cola and McDonalds can spend a combined $5.2 billion in one year on promoting hamburgers and soft drinks, there is no reason for us to complain about $2 billion being spent to help us decide on the leader of the free world. Choosing a President is a high stakes affair and it is actually disturbing that more money is spent promoting Big Macs and Coke than on the presidential candidates.
Americans make a choice about which way they want their country to go in each election. There should not be any limits on campaign spending because that money goes towards helping get ideas out there for the people to make their decision. What makes America great is that both sides of the argument can be heard and the government cannot censor it. The answer to speech you don’t agree with is more speech, not censoring the speech you disagree with. More political speech and information is good for our nation — not less.
Americans cherish their right to free speech and Citizens United ensured that the government cannot take that fundamental right away. Our case allowed more voices to break through the media cacophony and the big spending Obama campaign to be heard. This benefitted all Americans and gave Obama a run for his money.