Super PACs, or political action committees, have become a common topic of discussion among American voters during election seasons. These organizations can raise and spend enormous amounts of money on political campaigns, and their impact on elections is significant. If you’re new to politics or want to learn more about Super PACs and how they influence elections, this article by Dennis Bonnen, Second Floor Strategies, is for you. This will examine Super PACs and explore their history, structure, and impact on American elections.
A Super PAC is a political action committee that can raise and spend unlimited money on behalf of a political candidate or party. These organizations were created after the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, which ruled that corporations and other organizations could spend unlimited money on political campaigns. Super PACs are not allowed to coordinate with political candidates or parties directly. Still, they can spend as much on political advertising and other activities that support or oppose a specific candidate or party.
Traditional political action committees, known as PACs, have existed since the 1940s. PACs are also allowed to raise money from individuals but are limited in how much they can grow and spend. Under federal law, PACs can only give $5,000 per election cycle to a candidate or $15,000 per year to a political party. On the other hand, Super PACs are not limited in how much money they can raise or spend. This means that they can fund an entire campaign, essentially becoming the main financial backer of a political candidate or party.
Individuals, corporations, unions, and other organizations fund Super PACs. Unlike traditional PACs, Super PACs can accept unlimited amounts of money from these donors if they disclose the donations to the Federal Election Commission. Super PACs can also get money from other Super PACs, creating a chain of gifts that makes it difficult to trace the sources of funds.
Super PACs can influence elections in various ways, says Dennis Bonnen. Most notably, they can spend unlimited amounts of money on advertising that supports or opposes a political candidate or party. Super PACs can run ads on television, radio, and the internet, and they can also send mailers, make phone calls, and use social media to sway voters. Because Super PACs are not allowed to coordinate with political candidates or parties, they can create messages that differ from those of the candidate or party they support. This can create confusion among voters, who may not be able to distinguish between statements from the Super PAC and the candidate or party they support.
Critics of Super PACs argue that they hurt the democratic process. They believe that Super PACs give billionaires, corporations, and special interest groups an outsized influence on the political process. Some also argue that Super PACs create a corrupting influence on the politicians they support, who may be more likely to act on behalf of their donors rather than the people they represent. Furthermore, critics have pointed out that Super PACs can flood the airwaves with negative advertising, suppressing voter turnout and discouraging candidates from running for office.
Despite the criticism, there are some benefits to Super PACs. Proponents argue that they allow for more extraordinary political speech and expression, which the First Amendment protects. Supporters also say that Super PACs can create more competition in elections, leading to better-informed voters and more accountability among politicians. Super PACs can also create more opportunities for candidates with less name recognition or less financial resources to compete in elections.
Super PACs will continue to play a significant role in American politics in the coming years. The Supreme Court has consistently ruled to protect political speech, and there is no indication that it will change course anytime soon. Furthermore, the cost of running political campaigns continues to rise, which makes Super PACs an attractive option for candidates who want to stay competitive. However, there have been some recent efforts to limit the influence of Super PACs, including proposals to require disclosure of all donations to Super PACs, restrictions on contributions from corporations or other large donors, and bans on Super PACs altogether.
Dennis Bonnen knows Super PACs have significantly impacted American elections in recent years. They can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns, which has led to some controversy and criticism. However, Super PACs also have some benefits, including creating more competition in elections and expanding the range of political speech. While it remains to be seen what role Super PACs will play in future elections, they will likely remain a significant factor for some time.