When the Supreme Court, in its infinite wisdom, decided that corporations enjoy the free speech rights of individuals, it took a bad campaign finance system and made it worse. Suddenly, free-spending PACs, representing powerful business interests, could flood our campaign finance system with unprecedented amounts of money and distort the way we elect leaders in the United States. In the early days of the Republican nomination process, we're already seeing the results. Super PACs, sometimes receiving $5 million from one individual, are running attack ads -- lots of attack ads -- in primary states. And the real deluge has yet to come. Just wait until next fall.
What to do about the sanctioned distortion of our political system? It's hard to be optimistic when fixing the problem would realistically require a constitutional amendment. But that's what Lawrence Lessig (Harvard law professor and founder of Creative Commons) is trying to do. Appearing at Google (see below), Lessig describes how special interests corrupt our political system, and what we can do to stop it. But even Lessig will admit that it's an uphill battle.
That leaves us with the next best solution: turn a joke of an election system into a good joke. Enter Stephen Colbert. The comedian has created his own Super PAC (run by Jon Stewart) that comes complete with its own TV ads. The parody above -- an attack ad on attack ads -- makes its point pretty effectively. You can watch eight more Colbert PAC commercials here, and make a donation to his PAC here. And, if you're feeling generous, you can show your support for Open Culture here.
Breaking News: Stephen Colbert ends quasi-presidential campaign