Editorials: How An Election In Greece Could Cause Europe To Crumble | Yannis Palaiologos/The New Republic

Anyone anxiously waiting for the European Union’s death knell could do worse than circle May 6 on his calendar. That’s when Greece, a nation brought to its knees by an unprecedented economic crisis, is scheduled to hold what promises to be a turbulent parliamentary election. It’s an open question whether Europe’s fragile political balance—and Greece’s tenuous hold on membership in the Eurozone—will survive the subsequent aftershocks. What’s already clear is that life in Greece will never quite be the same. To gauge the extent of the tumult engulfing Greek politics, consider this: Since 1981, when the socialist party PASOK first won power, its combined share of the vote in national elections with the conservative Nea Demokratia, its main rival, has never fallen below 77 percent, and it often exceeded 85 percent. Recent polls for the coming contest give the two parties a joint percentage that lies between 33 and 40 percent. After the last general election, in October 2009, the two parties controlled between them 251 out of the 300 seats in parliament. Now, if the polls are to be believed, they may struggle to get to the 151 seats needed to form a viable coalition government.

Editorials: New Virginia voter ID law and voting felons are unconnected but not unrelated issues | Kent Willis/Augusta Free Press

Contrary to what has become a popular conclusion in blogs and editorials, the recent revelations about felons having illegally voted in Virginia is not evidence that the state needs the voter ID law passed this year by the General Assembly. The emerging law – which is still being tweaked by the governor and lawmakers – requires voters who do not have proof of identification when they show up at the polls to cast a provisional ballot. It replaces a law that allowed voters without IDs to sign a form affirming their identity and then cast a regular ballot like everyone else. The purpose of the new law, according to its defenders, is to prevent someone from showing up at the polls and pretending to be someone else. The problem legislators have in defending the law is that no one ever fakes their identity at the polls. In fact, recent studies show that there is so little voter impersonation fraud that the chances of it happening are about the same as being struck by lightning.

Editorials: “Corporate Personhood” Is Not the Problem | Garret Epps/American Prospect

American politics is in trouble. A tsunami of unaccountable, untraceable political money is overwhelming the Republican race for the presidential nomination and threatens to do the same to the fall election. For many people, especially progressives, the culprit is easy to name: the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which swept away any limits on election-advocacy ads by corporations, unions, and “independent” political-action committees (PACs) and issue groups. Many progressives believe that Citizens United “made corporations people” and that a constitutional amendment restricting “corporate personhood” will cure this political ill. Citizens United is a bad decision. This obvious fact may even be dawning on the Court’s conservative majority, which is taking a surprisingly leisurely look at American Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Bullock, in which the Montana Supreme Court directly challenged Citizens United, in essence telling the justices that they didn’t understand the first thing about politics. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, dissenters in Citizens United, have publicly stated that American Tradition may offer an opening to limit or even overturn the malign precedent.

Editorials: The People vs. the “Corporate People” | The Motley Fool

The Supreme Court’s Citizens United case, which helped further open the floodgates for corporate political spending in America, is about an ongoing and extremely contentious issue. Even before the ruling, there was plenty of reason to believe the deep-pocketed “corporate people” had far more influence on politics than regular people, and it was a bit amazing to think that corporate interests were given the go-ahead to exert even more power over political outcomes. In California, lawmakers recently put forth a resolution to overturn the unpopular decision, further asking Congress for a constitutional amendment to that end. Obviously, many regular people simply can’t accept the “corporate personhood” argument. The fact that corporate money is equated with “free speech” for these inhuman entities is pretty hard to swallow, too.

Editorials: The Meaning of Omar Suleiman | Steve Clemons/Huffington Post

Egypt’s Presidential Election Commission has deemed ten candidates unqualified for the upcoming election battle to succeed the toppled Hosni Mubarak.  They include the surprise candidate from the Muslim Brotherhood, Khairat al-Shater; the more radical Islamist Hazem Salah Abu Ismail; and Omar Suleiman, Mubarak’s long time spymaster. Egyptian citizens are massing in Tahrir Square protesting anti-democratic manipulation by the Commission as well as protesting in various pockets of the square this or that candidate on the roster — or, as it were, not on the roster. Of those in the current public glare, however, Omar Suleiman is the person I find most fascinating and perhaps consequential.

Editorials: Digging deeper into the 2012 Scytl vote count controversy | Examiner.com

The news story being circulated around the alternative media concerning the Spanish company SCYTL and its contracts with 900 U.S. voter jurisdictions is a complicated one. And it is one that has tended to lend itself to broad generalizations and, in some cases, misinformation. Digging deeper into the vote tabulation controversy should help separate fact from fiction.  First, it is important to consider what has been discovered to be either fiction or at the very least unconfirmed speculation. Rumors, innuendo, and opinions that cannot be verified by the paper trail cannot be considered fact, although there may be some kernel of truth within them. A perfect example is the oft repeated claim that George Soros owns SCYTL. There is no evidence that the Leftwing billionaire has any financial stake in the company. SCYTL is funded by three sources, venture capital corporations that specialize in investing in privately owned companies. Those three sources are Balderton Capital, Nauta Capital, and Spinnaker SCR. SCYTL’s board of directors and information concerning its founder can be found at the corporate website. Information on the company’s management team can be found here. However, all attempts to discover who exactly owns SCYTL have come up empty. The company is listed in all official profiles as a “privately owned corporation,” but no information is given as to the identities of the private owners.

Editorials: How Gender Identity May Determine the Right to Vote in 2012 | Colorlines

American companies are born as private commercial entities, but thanks to the Citizens UnitedSupreme Court decision, suddenly they can transition to human status for the purpose of influencing an election with millions of dollars. Meanwhile, thousands of actual human citizens, who’ve only transitioned gender identity, may have less influence over elections—or no influence at all—because they’ll now face heavy burdens under strict photo voter ID laws. It’s an obscene paradox. Over 25,000 transgendered American citizens may face stiff barriers to voting in the November 2012 election according to the report “The Potential Impact of Voter Identification Laws on Transgender Voters,” released last week by the Williams Institute at UCLA’s law school. This is, by any measure, the portion of the electorate that is among the most marginalized and stigmatized, and hence probably most in need of the right to have a say in who governs their lives. But discussions on both sides of voter ID laws tend to leave out transgendered citizens in discussions about who would be most adversely impacted. I’m including myself in that critique. I briefly mentioned that transgendered citizens would be impacted in my first Voting Rights Watch blog, but have failed to consistently talk about their burdens in subsequent blogs. We often talk about black and Latino voters, elderly and student voterswomen and those with low incomes as having trouble satisfying new photo voter ID mandates, but many transgendered voters will have an incredibly tough set of challenges before them if they are to have their vote counted in November. The cost of getting the appropriate ID to vote in some jurisdictions will be as high as getting surgery.

Editorials: Five myths about super PACs | Trevor Potter/The Washington Post

The Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United allowed them. Political candidates rely on them. And Stephen Colbert parodies them. But as a former chair of the Federal Election Commission and the lawyer behind Colbert’s super PAC — Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow — I find that most people don’t understand the role that these largely unaccountable organizations play in American politics. As the GOP primary race draws to a close, let’s take a look at some common misconceptions about groups powerful enough to evade traditional limits with a single bound.

1. Super PACs are transparent because they are required to report the names of donors.

Under federal law, political action committees must report the names of their donors. And under the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling, corporations are permitted to spend money on political speech. So super PACs — allegedly independent political action committees that can collect unlimited cash — regularly disclose corporate contributors. But transparency can be a bit blurry at times. In 2011, the Mitt Romney-linked Restore our Future super PAC reported a $1 million contribution from “W Spann LLC.” Never heard of it? Neither had several enterprising reporters, who learned that its address in New York was the same as that of Bain Capital — Romney’s former firm. After the press demanded to know what Romney was hiding, a former Bain executive came forward to say that the donation was his. He had given it through a shell corporation that his lawyer had created for that purpose. How often does this happen? What if W Spann had been funded by another corporation or a foreign national — one whose lawyers had been a little less obvious when picking an address? Disclosure isn’t the same as transparency.

Editorials: Has Super PAC Cash Corrupted TV Stations? | Jeffrey Rosen/The New Republic

When writing for the 5-4 majority that decided Citizens United, Justice Anthony Kennedy argued that caps on corporate campaign contributions were unnecessary because corporations would inevitably be held accountable for the money they spent on advertising. Disclosure requirements, Kennedy suggested, would provide the electorate with full “information about the sources of election-related spending.” But the type of full disclosure that Kennedy envisioned has been harder to achieve than he imagined. As expected, super PACs have been spending vast sums of money on political ads—with the share for television ads expected to rise to some $3 billion this year. But efforts by the government to regulate the transparency of those ads have met bitter resistance—resistance coming not only from corporate donors, but also from the local broadcast networks receiving the bulk of their money. This kind of intransigence from the super PACs is hardly a surprise. What is surprising is the intransigence from public broadcasters. The arguments against transparency offered by the networks show that, having experienced the windfall of advertising dollars that Citizens United unleashed, they have little interest in meeting their legal and ethical responsibility to serve the public interest.

Editorials: French elections: how will London vote? | The Guardian

Sitting in a pub in Bethnal Green and nursing a mug of beer, Vincent Drapeau is hard pushed to think of what he misses about his home country. “The price of wine in supermarkets,” he says. “The baguettes in the bakery every morning. The diversity of landscapes.” He runs out. There is no more. He is at home here, in a quirky corner of the capital better known for its greasy spoons and street-art than its pâtisseries and pavement cafes. “East London leads London and London leads Europe, and maybe the world!” he declares, chuckling. Even he seems a little taken aback by the zeal of his anglophilia. The 25-year-old is just one of an estimated 300,000-400,000 French people who have crossed the Channel to live in Britain and are now scattered all over the country and, predominantly, in London. He is far from being, however, a member of the fabled South Kensington set, the close-knit community of expatriates based in and around the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle, the Institut Français and the “Frog Alley” of Bute Street. For decades, the prominence of the enclave has caused it to become the symbol of the French community in Britain – much to the irritation of those who want no part of it. One woman, who lives in Kent, describes the south-west London district as an inward-looking “ghetto”- albeit one of wealth and privilege.

Editorials: No Election Assistance Commissioners? No problem. | The Washington Post

Wait, isn’t this an election year? The kind that will see voters stepping into booths and casting ballots, pulling levers and punching buttons? Bad timing then for the Election Assistance Commission to be completely leaderless. It’s the body that was created in the wake of the 2000 presidential election’s hanging-chad debacle and tasked with overseeing federal election standards. Not one of the body’s four commissioner seats is filled, and it looks like they’ll remain vacant for the foreseeable future. Adding to the leadership vacuum, the commission’s executive director left in November. Filling in has been general counsel Mark Robbins — although he has been nominated to another post and could leave the agency if confirmed.

Editorials: McDonnell’s wise move on Virginia’s voter ID bill | The Washington Post

Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell has moved to gut an obnoxious bill, championed by Republican lawmakers, that would have needlessly stiffened voting requirements for Virginians. The governor’s level-headed move has annoyed his fellow Republicans, but it has also reaffirmed his reputation as a conservative who has governed mainly as a pragmatist — a reputation that propels him to the short list of Mitt Romney’s putative running mates. Although he didn’t veto the bill, Mr. McDonnell offered a series of amendments whose effect will be to render the legislation all but moot. That’s a good thing, because the voter ID bill is a gratuitously divisive measure whose only effect would have been to invalidate ballots cast by thousands of poor, young, elderly and minority voters. Under a state law that has worked well for decades, Virginia voters who lack identification may cast ballots anyway, providing they sign an affidavit attesting to their identity. Falsifying the affidavit is a felony under state law.

Editorials: No Easy Solutions for Big Money in Politics | chicagotribune.com

Citizens United and super PACs have had an ugly effect on this election, but they may be the evil of two lessers. Big money is having a powerfully different effect on this year’s national election campaign. We’ve seen it in the extraordinary oscillations of the Republican primaries, largely brought about by millions of dollars of television attack ads, financed not by the opposing campaigns so much as by groups outside the parties that can say whatever they want without the candidates or the parties being called to account. These are the super PACs, political action committees on steroids. Their muscle–and some think their menace–comes from two federal court rulings in 2010, notably the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United,that allow them to raise as much as they can from anyone and spend as much as they like, provided–and it was regarded as a key proviso–that they are independent. For a super PAC to make contributions directly to parties or candidates, or do anything in collusion with candidates, is illegal.

Editorials: Egypt’s presidency: The revolution within the Ikhwan | Al Jazeera

Regardless of the widespread cacophony, the decision by Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood (EMB) to contest the presidency is calculated to stop a “quiet coup” by the country’s top brass. The revolution within the EMB is no less important than the January 25 uprising that ousted Mubarak. Despite wide criticism, the EMB along with its political arm – the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) – ups the ante on the presidential elections. By settling on an EMB presidential nominee, the Ikhwan have not only raised political stakes, but also the value of contestation, even if the nomination of Khairat al-Shater may not be devoid of risks. What is the crux of this new dynamic and what is the significance of al-Shater’s nomination?

Editorials: How the Wage Gap Thwarts Women’s Political Agenda | Forbes

The gender gap in voting is the latest hot topic after a USA Today poll showed Obama leading women voters over Romney by 18 points in key swing states. But there’s another gender gap when it comes to election season, and this one doesn’t work in women’s favor: women are being completely outspent by men in campaign contributions. This isn’t a new trend. While women have been slowly working on increasing our numbers in Congress – even though our representation is far, far from equal – there hasn’t been equal progress in women donating to Congressional candidates, the Center for Responsive Politics reports. Campaign contributions have long been a boy’s club, although women made advances when both Clintons made their runs. But this year’s political contributions are a different animal now that Super PACs have been emboldened by the Citizens United ruling. There are currently 407 Super PACs, and they have received over $150 million and spend over $85 million, making them a serious force in the race. Yet women only make up 14 percent of Super PAC donors, according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission data by the Houston Chronicle. That number is down from previous years, in which it was more than doubled.

Editorials: How to Expand the Voter Rolls | NYTimes.com

A country that should be encouraging more people to vote is still using an archaic voter registration system that creates barriers to getting a ballot. In 2008, 75 million eligible people did not vote in the presidential election, and 80 percent of them were not registered. The vast majority of states rely on a 19th-century registration method: requiring people to fill out a paper form when they become eligible to vote, often at a government office, and to repeat the process every time they move. This is a significant reason why the United States has a low voter participation rate. The persistence of the paper system is all the more frustrating because a growing number of states have shown that technology can get more people on voter rolls. There’s no reason why every state cannot automatically register eligible voters when they have contact with a government agency. The most common method, now used in 17 states, electronically sends data from motor vehicle departments to election offices.

Editorials: Only spotlight for elections supervisors is harsh | Palm Beach Post

In ancient times, before 2000, Florida elections supervisors had profiles lower than mob guys in witness protection. Then came the butterfly ballot and Bush vs. Gore and the realization that not just anyone can run an election – or at least run an election well. Palm Beach County is on its third elections supervisor since then and next year may have a fourth. Meanwhile, the Legislature has made two major revisions in how the state conducts elections and another big change designed to make voter registration harder. Point being, the workings of elections never have been under more scrutiny. Sadly, 12 years after the biggest election fiasco in U.S. history, Palm Beach County remains unable to produce a string of trouble-free elections, no matter who is in charge. Theresa LePore’s 2000 ballot brought her a challenge from fellow Democrats in 2004. She lost to Arthur Anderson, a former school board chairman who had no experience with elections or technology. Mr. Anderson presided over a reign of error.

Editorials: Why Isn’t Voter Suppression A Protest Cause? | The New Republic

This week brought another major report on all the efforts in state capitals, almost all Republican-led, to restrict voting rights via new limits on voter registration, early voting, proof of residency and voter identification, all in the name of countering the phantom menace of voter fraud. In a conference call to announce the report, which was produced by the Center for American Progress, Rep. James Clyburn, the South Carolina Democrat, noted that the new rules had led several groups to stop registering voters in that most crucial of swing states, Florida, for fear of running afoul of the law: “To see the League of Women Voters walking away from voter registration activities in the state of Florida because to do so makes it almost inevitable that they will be brought before a court of law and charged with crimes — that is not the America so many of us started, back in our pre-teenaged years, working to make possible.” This prompted me to wonder again, as I did when I first heard about the decision by the registration groups to abandon Florida, why there hasn’t been more visible pushback against the new restrictions. Back in the 1950s and ’60s, after all, people risked imprisonment and worse to protest on behalf of voting rights and civil rights. Why is the threat of penalties under an obviously unjust law now enough to discourage groups from challenging them outright?

Editorials: Florida – How Soon We Forget | NYTimes.com

Last spring, Florida made some changes to its election law. Cloaked as technical tweaks, the new laws have the potential to swing the 2012 election. When it comes to presidential elections, Florida matters. With 29 electoral votes, Florida is by far the most influential swing state in the country. Who gets to vote in Florida could determine who will win the election. There are over 11 million registered voters in the state. But after the changes put in place last spring, there may be far fewer Floridians going to the polls in 2012. President Obama and the Republican nominee will be fighting for every last one of those votes. The state is so critical to the race that there’s early talk of Floridian political stars like Senator Marco Rubio or former Governor Jeb Bush joining the Republican ticket. In 2008, Obama defeated Senator John McCain in Florida by a little more than 200,000 votes, out of more than 8 million cast. The changes enacted last spring include severe restrictions on groups that register new voters, cutting the early voting period nearly in half and rolling back voting rights for those with criminal convictions in their past.

Editorials: Southeast Asia Roundup: The (Electoral T)Ides of March | CEIP

Step aside Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, there are equally (some would argue more) gripping electoral contests occurring on the other side of the world—in Southeast Asia. Myanmar’s by-elections on April 1 were groundbreaking. Timor-Leste’s ongoing presidential elections seem to have already thrust the country in a new direction. And in Malaysia, Prime Minister Najib Razak may not have called for a vote, but election fever is in the air.

Editorials: Super PACs can be thwarted, even with ‘Citizens United’ | The Washington Post

Here is the only good news about the super PACs flooding the 2012 presidential race with negative ads funded by huge contributions from the super rich: These vehicles for corruption can be eliminated. Congress can pass legislation to end these candidate-specific super PACs that is well within the bounds of Citizens United. The Supreme Court’s decision in the 2010 case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission paved the way for the creation of super PACs — federally registered political action committees that raise unlimited contributions and use these funds to make expenditures in federal elections. To legally spend these funds, the court said, outside groups must operate independently of the candidates they are supporting. The 2012 presidential campaign has brought us a particularly virulent form of these groups: the candidate-specific super PAC. If not made illegal, they will spread to congressional races as well.

Editorials: The Virtues of the Super PAC | NYTimes.com

With the Republican primary season winding down, it’s time to celebrate two heroes of participatory democracy, two champions of the ordinary voter, two men who did everything in their power to make the ballot box matter as much as the fundraising circuit. I speak, of course, of Sheldon Adelson and Foster Friess. Adelson is the casino billionaire whose super PAC donations enabled Newt Gingrich to upset Mitt Romney in South Carolina and give him a scare in Florida. Friess is the investment manager whose super PAC donations enabled Rick Santorum to prolong the race through February and March. Both men are controversial; both have been cited as prime examples of the corrupting influence of great wealth on our politics. But both did more than anyone else to prevent the Republican primary from turning into a straightforward “money talks” affair.

Editorials: A Judge Turns on the Light on Campaign Finance | NYTimes.com

A federal judge took an important step toward ending secret donations to big-spending political groups, striking down regulations that permitted some groups to hide their donors. Unfortunately, the ruling probably came too late to flush this corrupting practice from this year’s elections — though there is still time for Congress to do so. The secret-donor problem began in 2007 when the Supreme Court, in the Wisconsin Right to Life case, ended restrictions on corporate and union political spending by advocacy groups in the weeks prior to an election. A few weeks later, the Federal Election Commission, naïvely suggesting that some corporate donors to those groups might not have intended to give for political purposes, said that only those donations explicitly earmarked for political purposes had to be disclosed. The loophole was obvious: Just don’t declare any donation to be political, and they can all be secret.

Editorials: Voting in America: When is Democracy not a Democracy? | Al Jazeera

Democracy. That buzzword we hear over and over again coming from powerful quarters in the US to help explain interventions across the globe, from Iraq to Central America. But while many in the world are familiar with the buzzword, few may realise that a fight over democracy is being waged on American soil as we speak, and it comes in the form of challenging brand new voting laws. Here’s a little background: In 2010 the Republican Party swept to power at the state level across the US. Today they control the senate and the House of Representatives in 25 states, and have a significant presence in a number of other state level legislatures. They’ve been using that newly acquired power to pass laws that clamp down on what they say is rampant voter fraud. To date, at least 30 new laws and bills have been introduced to change the rules of the voting game, like for example requiring voters to have a government-issued photo ID to cast their ballot. Since embarking on this story, I have had a number of people ask me “what’s the big deal with wanting people to present a photo ID when they vote?” On the surface, nothing.

Editorials: Can Someone Put A Stop To The Insanity Of Political Redistricting? | Nicholas Stephanopoulos/The New Republic

To put it mildly, the latest round of redistricting has not been the most edifying experience. Over the past year, politicians have assembled throughout the country to carve districts that are equal in population, but that otherwise serve their own interests rather than the public’s. Protracted litigation has determined, on a case-by-case basis, which districts will be represented by minority groups. And the courts have been intimately involved not just with minority representation but also with every other aspect of the process. Already, in the current cycle, more than 150 lawsuits have been filed. Americans have gotten used to this baroque struggle, but it’s worth remembering that most foreign observers consider it bizarre, even pathological. Compared to other countries with similar electoral systems, the American model of redistricting is an extreme outlier. And not only is the U.S. model different from its peers, it is also inferior. When it comes to elections, it’s clear that American exceptionalism is a vice, not a virtue.

Editorials: Super PACs on rise, but not with women | Houston Chronicle

For the past two decades, the amount of political money raised by women – and donated by women – has been steadily increasing. But this year, the trend has collided with a new reality in American politics: the Super PAC. The meteoric rise of the big-dollar political committees in the 2012 campaign has reversed some of the gains made by women since 1992, the so-called “Year of the Woman” in U.S. elections. According to Federal Election Commission data, women make up only 14 percent of Super PAC donors – groups now outspending the presidential candidates’ campaigns. That’s less than half the previous levels. Overall, women, who make up slightly more than half the population, account for about one-third of contributions to candidates, parties and political action committees, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit nonpartisan research group.

Editorials: Shater as president! Is Brotherhood turning Egypt into Sunni Iran? | Middle East Online

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood is to field its deputy chairman Khairat al-Shater as a candidate in the upcoming presidential election, the group’s party and supreme guide said on Saturday. “The Freedom and Justice Party will nominate Khairat al-Shater as a candidate for the presidency,” the FJP said on its Facebook page. The 61-year-old professor of engineering and business tycoon will be standing in the country’s first presidential election since a popular uprising ousted veteran leader Hosni Mubarak last year. The election is scheduled for May 23 and 24. The Brotherhood’s supreme guide, Mohammed Badie, confirmed Shater’s nomination at a news conference when he read out a brief statement from Shater, who was not present. “After it was decided to field my name in the presidential elections, I can only accept the decision of the Brotherhood. I will therefore resign from my position as deputy chairman,” Shater’s statement said.

Editorials: There’s no democratic quick fix | Ottawa Citizen

As Canadians focus on cases of possible election fraud with the unfolding “robocalls” scandal, some people have suggested that Internet voting might be one way of stopping unscrupulous political activists from sending voters to non-existent polling stations. In fact, Internet voting is likely to increase, rather than decrease, electoral fraud. Since online voting requires passwords, there would be nothing to stop eligible voters from giving or selling their passwords to others. A few charismatic members of a community organization, or of a partisan political association, or of a family might then be able to control the votes of numerous citizens.

Editorials: Suppress the Vote! | NYTimes.com

The grip of the super PAC on the Republican primary season has been well-documented. They are wrecking balls operating outside the candidates’ direct control, fueled by massive influxes of cash from a handful of wealthy patrons. The millions spent by the pro-Santorum Red, White and Blue Fund and the pro-Gingrich super PAC, Winning Our Future, have prolonged their respective candidates’ rivalry with the front-runner, Mitt Romney, whose own Restore Our Future has bludgeoned the competition from Iowa to Florida to Michigan. And that’s just the start. In the general election, super PACs will evolve into full-blown shadow campaigns. This transition is already underway, with the super PACs supporting Republican candidates beginning to take on voter persuasion operations — like sending direct mail and making phone calls — that have traditionally been reserved for a campaign operation or party committee.

Editorials: Crankocracy In America – Who Really Benefitted From Citizens United? | Timothy Noah/The New Republic

In 2009, Ralph Nader published a fantasia titled Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!, in which he imagined a group of maverick billionaires banding together to defeat corporate power in America. Declaring themselves “the Meliorists,” these enlightened oligarchs force Walmart to unionize, elect Warren Beatty governor of California, establish single-payer health insurance, raise the minimum wage to a livable salary, and in general breathe life back into liberalism. In 2012, something like Nader’s utopian scenario has begun to take shape, but with a radically different ideology. Super-rich, hard-right tycoons like Foster Friess (mutual funds), Harold Simmons (chemicals and metals), Bob Perry (home-building), and Sheldon Adelson (casinos) are, through the new vehicle called the super PAC, leveraging their fortunes to seize hold of the political process. Super PACs have made it so easy for millionaires and billionaires to spend unlimited sums on behalf of a particular candidate that these groups are now routinely outspending Republican presidential primary campaigns. Indeed, to a remarkable extent, these oligarch-controlled super PACs are the primary campaign. And, while both parties can create super PACs, so far GOP super PACs are burying their Democratic counterparts. Of the top ten individuals funding super PACs, only one—Jeffrey Katzenberg—is a Democrat.