prospect.org — On Wednesday, we'll begin talking about whether whoever gets elected has a "mandate." We'll talk about it even more if Barack Obama is re-elected, because when a new president takes office we accept that he'll be doing all kinds of new things, changing course on almost every policy, replacing all the members of the other party who populate the executive branch with members of his own party, etc. With a re-elected president, on the other hand, there's a real question about where he goes from here and how much he can try to accomplish. There's a fundamental problem with the mandate idea, however, that makes it almost meaningless in today's Washington. The mandate notion assumes that the larger the president's margin of victory, the greater the proportion of the public has signed on to his policy agenda. But the idea of the mandate is about Congress more than anything else.
At a time when the country is still reeling from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the storm has reaffirmed progressive principles that have been under attack in recent years. Sandy has, in fact, brought together a trifecta of progressive policy vindications: the dangers of climate silence, the importance of a strong and responsive federal government, and the necessity of collective bargaining rights for workers.
propublica.org — About a week before election day, a young girl, maybe 10 years old, confronted Colorado House candidate Sal Pace in a pew at his Pueblo church. "She said, 'Is it true that you want to cut my grandmother's Medicare?'" Pace remembers. Like many other Democrats around the country, Pace has spent months trying to rebut the charge that President Obama's health care reforms hurt Grandma by cutting Medicare by $716 billion. "I told the little girl that the ads are full of lies and that it's not right for people to lie," he said. What Pace couldn't tell the girl was who exactly is to blame. That's because the moneymen behind the outfit spending the most on the Medicare attack ads in Pace's district will not show their faces.
creators.com — As feared, our people's democratic authority has been dogged nearly to death by the hounds of money in this election go 'round, thanks to the Supreme Court's reckless decree in the now-infamous Citizens United case. That rank political power play by five black-robed judicial partisans unleashed the Big Dogs of corporate money to bite democracy right in the butt this year, poisoning our elections with the venom of unlimited special-interest cash. But there's also been another, little-reported consequence of the malevolent Citizens United decision: It has unleashed mad-dog corporate bosses to tell employees how to vote. Prior to that 2010 Court ruling, top executives were barred by federal law from using corporate funds to instruct, induce, intimidate or otherwise push workers to support particular candidates. No more, thanks to the five Supremes. Having been given a legal pass, bosses have openly and aggressively conscripted employees to be political troopers for corporate-backed candidates.
guardian.co.uk — It's a revolting spectacle: the two presidential candidates engaged in a frantic and demeaning scramble for money. By 6 November, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will each have raised more than $1 billion. Other groups have already spent a further billion. Every election costs more than the one before; every election, as a result, drags the United States deeper into cronyism and corruption. Whichever candidate takes the most votes, it's the money that wins. Despite perpetual attempts to reform it, U.S. campaign finance is now more corrupt and corrupting than it has been for decades. It is hard to see how it can be redeemed. If the corporate cronies and billionaires' bootlickers who currently hold office were to vote to change the system, they'd commit political suicide. What else, apart from the money they spend, would recommend them to the American people?
propublica.org — The boxes landed in the office of Montana investigators in March 2011. Found in a meth house in Colorado, they were somewhat of a mystery, holding files on 23 conservative candidates in state races in Montana. They were filled with candidate surveys and mailers that said they were paid for by campaigns, and fliers and bank records from outside spending groups. One folder was labeled "Montana $ Bomb." The documents pointed to one outside group pulling the candidates' strings: a social welfare nonprofit called Western Tradition Partnership, or WTP. Altogether, the records added up to possible illegal "coordination" between the nonprofit and candidates for office in 2008 and 2010, said a Montana investigator and a former Federal Election Commission chairman who reviewed the material. Outside groups are allowed to spend money on political campaigns, but not to coordinate with candidates.
truthdig.com — Corporations, in addition to spending unlimited amounts of money through super PACs, can now funnel money into not-for-profit business leagues like the Chamber of Commerce and skirt the public eye. The IRS doesn’t require nonprofit groups to reveal their funds, so they can collect money from corporations that don’t want to attract attention and spend it on their behalf. “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the poster child for Citizens United,” said Blair Bowie from U.S. PIRG.
salon.com — You might think being responsible for arguably the worst election debacle in American history, in 2000, would have spurred Florida’s politicians to make the state the nation’s model for excellence in election administration. But in the past few years state Republicans, from Gov. Rick Scott on down, have worked tirelessly to come up with ways to limit the number of voters — overwhelmingly, Democratic voters – able to cast ballots on Nov. 6. And, with President Obama and Mitt Romney effectively tied for the state’s crucial 29 electoral votes, these restrictions could end up determining who wins the presidency. In 2000, the contest came down to 537 votes; the number of people who may already have been left out of the process or will be by election day dwarfs that number many times over.
salon.com — Maybe it’s the fact that people are tired of having their favorite TV shows as a side dish to political attack ads this time of year, but a new poll shows that Americans think there’s way too much money in politics. Almost 90 percent of respondents agree there’s too much corporate money in politics, with 51 percent strongly agreeing, according to a new poll released today by the Corporate Reform Coalition. The poll of 804 Americans was conducted by the Democratic-leaning P.R. firm Bannon Communications. But corporate money is only one piece of the problem. A new study from Public Citizen notes that most super PACS only support a single candidate, a fact that undermines the Supreme Court’s argument in the Citizens United decision.
propublica.org — With campaign finances limits rendered nearly meaningless, election spending is on pace to set records. Where does each presidential candidate stand on how to regulate money in politics? President Obama talks about changes but hasn’t instituted many. He favors legislation that would require disclosure of donors to dark money nonprofits. The president has also floated a Constitutional amendment to address Citizens United — an idea that’s currently politically impossible. Yet advocates point out Obama hasn’t even instituted campaign finance measures that he could do on his own using executive power. Mitt Romney has mostly stayed mum. His campaign doesn’t have an official position paper on campaign finance and wouldn’t answer questions. Here are the details.