By John Stark
After the US Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, some people feared that unregulated contributions would pour into politics and buy elections.
NPR has a report outlining several key Senate races in which massive amounts of SuperPAC money failed to buy the desired outcome for SuperPAC contributors.
I don’t want to minimize the impact that money has on our political processes. But the fear that advertising money will buy voters’ allegiance has always seemed more than a little elitist. At its core, that argument boils down to “Political advertising will sway the ignorant masses.” Nobody making this argument claims to be a part of the ignorant masses. Nobody ever says, “I’m afraid political advertising will hypnotize me into voting Republican.” The fear is that some other guy–that dumb guy down the street–won’t be smart enough to do his own thinking and is at risk of political hypnotism.
Advertising may get me into a car company’s showroom but it won’t make me buy the car. Advertising may get me to try your brand of beer or eat at your restaurant, but if I don’t like your beer or your restaurant I won’t be back.