…is, much like his running mate, apparently now worthless. As a moderate liberal I’m disappointed to see the ability of corporations, or large advocacy groups in general, to influence politics expanded. However, I’m also not seeing this as a huge blow for democracy for several reasons.

While republicans and special interests can joyously toast to their newly regained freedom to spend as much as they want buying supporting candidates, in a society as open as ours money alone is no guarantor of success. Laws still require any ads created by anyone not the campaign to identify their funding source (ex: thisadpaidforbytheamericancivillibertiesunion) so unless you’re an idiot you can still make a rational choice for yourself over whether to believe the contents of a given ad.  This is putting aside the fact that, this being the age of internet and the information revolution having long ago taken root, you can find out pretty much anything you want about  a given candidate anywhere you want. Finally, this still being the realm of American politics any candidate, no matter how well groomed, is never more than a well-placed scandal away from utter destruction.

And for liberals crying into their drinks, there are still more reasons to take heart. The Obama campaign if nothing else showed the utility, if not outright godlike power, of using the internet to glean hundreds of millions in microdonations. Whether this was due simply to Obama’s force of personality, or is even feasible on a smaller scale than a presidential campaign, remain open questions. What is clear is that, despite recent GOP gains, this is of much greater benefit to the Democrats, proportional to their relative mastery of internet technology. Thus there’s little reason for liberals to fear that the GOP, traditionally allied to big business, will suddenly be able to buy their way out of the political depths.

Then again riding the wave of populist backlash against Obama seems to be doing that well enough on its own.

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