Super PACs rule elections, harm democratic process

Daniel Horowitz, Staff Writer

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This is an opinion article and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo.

In this day and age Super PACs are an integral component to presidential elections, in the worst way possible. As the elections draw near, advertisements are starting to become more prevalent — social media campaigns, commercials, signs and so on. These are provided by donors, who have a significant impact on elections and can influence the votes of anyone who participates in elections. Super PACs exponentially increase the weight of money in elections, skewing the influence in favor of a small part of the population. This is a corruption of the democratic process, removing the inherent right every citizen has to an equal vote. As community members, it is our responsibility to understand these committees, whether or not we agree with them.

Super PACs are similar to regular political action committees in that they can accept money from individuals and use it to support political candidates. Super PACs are different, however, in one large way: anyone, including businesses and unions, can donate and there is no limit as to how much they can give. 

Super PACs began forming after the 2010 Supreme Court case Citizens United v. Federal Election Committee. In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that the freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment applied to campaign donations. Therefore, it is constitutional for people to donate as much as they want to Super PACs. This allows for Super PACs to indirectly support candidates that agree with their views through television advertisements or any other means of persuasion.

This is an issue because it gives people with more money too much power in politics. When Super PACs have the resources to release support or slander ads for political candidates, they have control over what information can be spread to the public. In other words, they control what voters see.

Research published by the American Psychological Association reveals that campaign advertisements and the images they show can help to determine how voters will feel about a particular candidate. This is especially true for negative advertisements. By controlling what voters see on television, they can influence how they vote.

Some might argue that Super PACs benefit the democratic process since each one represents a certain group of people who support certain policy issues. Supporters of the Citizens United ruling probably believe that people should feel free to donate to groups that support their political stances. This is not a matter of whether or not people can donate to Super PACs, though. It is about how much they can donate.

When people have permission to donate as much as they want to political action committees, wealthier people have a lot more power in politics for an obvious reason. Because of this, Super PACs clearly hinder the political system. Not only do they have too much influence over voters, but they give wealthier people and large corporations more power than deserved in a democracy.

This has been a hot topic of debate among politicians for years. But it should not just matter to those who work on Capitol Hill. It should matter to us as Tulane students, as each one of our votes matter. We need to be aware of the influence super PACs have on elections, because, with their seemingly unlimited funding, they have the ability to influence us. At the very least, we must be wary of how they impact elections. Our personal beliefs should determine who we vote for, not money and advertisements.

Daniel is a sophomore at Newcomb-Tulane College. He can be reached at [email protected]