"At a minimum, we'll come close. More important than the total spent, the real difference this cycle is how great a portion of that money will come from purportedly independent, often secretive groups."
"An arms race driven by the outside money keeps incumbents and challengers alike desperately seeking funds and even more grateful to the donors that come to their aid."
Donor-friendly legislation, deregulation, and other scurrilous practices repay contributors manyfold.
On the stump, candidates deliver prepackaged, prescripted slogans, sound bites, and other rehearsed rhetoric to win votes. Focus-tested commercials proliferate. Candidate virtues and opponents' shortcomings are exaggerated for maximum effect.
Debates are worse. Issues are avoided. What matters most isn't discussed. A duplicitous charade substitutes. Voters are left entirely uninformed.
Until 1988, the nonpartisan League of Women Voters ran the process. Thereafter, both major parties usurped control through their Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD). Corporate money funds it. They get what they pay for.
Independent candidates and opinions are excluded. In 2000, Green Party candidate Ralph Nader was shut out and threatened with arrest for showing up for the first debate. Having a valid auxiliary viewing room ticket didn't matter.
So-called presidential debates constitute scripted theater. They feature prepackaged questions and answers. Issues mattering most aren't discussed responsibly if at all.
Massachusetts state police accosted Nader. They forced him to leave under threat of arrest. CPD officials left instructions to exclude him even from a separate University of Massachusetts sponsored viewing area. Others without tickets got in unopposed.
Nader sued and achieved partial vindication. CPD co-chairs Paul Kirk and Frank Fahrenkopf apologized.
Nader calls CPD's agenda "a deplorable, exclusionary tool of the two-party duopoly, performing an antidemocratic screening function in our system, and forcing excluded candidates to the sidelines in media attention and public appraisal."
On October 2, Nader headlined his CounterPunch article "Rigging the Presidential Debates," saying:
Obama and Romney control the CPD. Secret back room deals are made. Prescripted arrangements are consummated. Formats exclude debates.
Everything is negotiated in advance. If done "between two corporations, they could be prosecuted for criminal violation of the antitrust laws."
Voters aren't told about the "backroom" Obama/Romney "fix."