Supreme Court’s decision and voter ignorance

By John Toth
The Bulletin

I know when an issue hits just the right buttons by how many cartoons on the same topic are flying into my email from my cartoon service company. The recent Supreme Court 5-4 ruling on campaign financing to give corporations, unions and other special interest groups essentially a free rein when it comes to spending to support candidates sparked the cartoon wire – big time.
The ruling overturned a 63-year-old law and two of the court’s prior rulings to limit such financing. Now, many political pundits think it’s going to be a free-for-all. Companies and unions will be able to just buy their candidates.
The ruling, they say, will open the floodgates to pressures from big business to get candidates to go their way or face a near-limitless barrage of political ads against them.
Almost all of the editorials I read on this ruling were negative, and when President Obama mentioned it during his State of the Union message and proposed the Congress fix what the Supreme Court broke, both sides should should have applauded.
Now, here is my take on it. Some of you may have seen snippets on this on my Facebook page, but it’s worth going over it in detail.
What the Supreme Court did was hand control of the election process to special interest. The candidate with the most corporate money will win. Right?
It depends. All the pundits who have opined in this manner assume that you and I are stupid, and our votes can be bought. Maybe they’re right.
Some skeptics are even responding that we’re assuming incorrectly that our votes still count.
They do. However, through ignorance, we’re throwing our votes away.
A large portion of the voting public can be bought with a 30-second television ad. We tend to vote our emotions and base our decisions on incomplete or even false information because we just hear what “they” say.
Someone close to me used to forward volumes of information about a candidate she didn’t like. This family member disseminated a bunch of lies, not bothering to research anything.
Research these days doesn’t require a lot of work. All you have to do is go to Google or Yahoo, and the search engines find the information for you. It’s no longer a chore to receive information quickly. If you need a statistic, or need to know when something happened, it’s usually just a few clicks away.
I thought I would do some of the research for her and forward the correct information. No, a presidential candidate was not on Meet the Press on that particular day. No, he did not say what the email says he said. I sent her the show’s lineup.
Perception is often more important than reality, though, and whatever I sent over didn’t make any difference.
It’s because of instances like this that the Supreme Court failed in its duty to protect the public – from itself.
In a perfect world, corporate donations would have little to do with an election outcome. The well informed voter would make up his or her own mind based on facts and principles, not being influenced by the volumes of television ads paid for by a corporation, unions or other special interests.
Republicans and Democrats alike should be paranoid about this ruling, because they have been playing to the ignorance of the voting public, and now they may be financially outmatched.
Personally, if I see a bunch of stylish television ads about a candidate, I start looking at the other guy. It doesn’t mean I’ll oppose him or her, but I’d want to know how those ads were financed.
But, I am still one of those news junkies who jumps from MSNBC to CNN to Fox News, and turns off the news only if my family threatens to evict me along with the news networks and my dogs start hauling every time Jean Hannity or Rachel Maddow hit the screen. If you know whom I’m talking about, you may also qualify as a fellow news and/or political junkie.
Maybe Congress will fix what the Supreme Court broke the other day, and we can all go back to rooting for our favorite candidates -- on American Idol.