As the Republican nominating convention gets into full swing, there has been much discussion about the rightward shift by the party and its platform. But the GOP’s newfound hostility toward disclosure of money in politics does not reflect a move from center to right. It’s a move from light to dark.
The GOP platform adopted yesterday left no question that the party fully embraces unlimited, unregulated, undisclosed money in our elections.“We support repeal of the remaining sections of McCain-Feingold, support either raising or repealing contribution limits, and oppose passage of the DISCLOSE Act or any similar legislation designed to vitiate the Supreme Court’s recent decisions protecting political speech in Wisconsin Right to Life v. Federal Election Commission and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.”
How quickly things change. Four years ago, the namesake of the sweeping campaign finance reform measure the party now wants to trash was at the top of the GOP ticket. Now, the party platform stands for dismantling what’s left of that law and returning to the days when unlimited amounts of soft money filled party coffers.
Republicans have also made a rapid-fire shift from supporting to opposing disclosure of money in politics. As we have reported before, many Members of Congress who now oppose the DISCLOSE Act—which would make public the donors behind the unlimited dark money paying for our elections—had in the past voiced strong support for immediate disclosure of campaign contributions. In 1996, 2000 and 2004, the GOP platform unequivocally supported disclosure.
Why the shift from sunlight to smoke-filled rooms? It’s not to gin up their base. Or to appeal to Latino voters or middle class white men or soccer moms any other voting bloc. The Republican Party is catering to one very small but very influential faction. The money faction. The party is siding with super-rich individuals and corporations who want to keep buying candidates and elections with secret contributions that dwarf what most people earn in a year…or ten. It’s a power grab that chooses expediency over accountability, to the detriment of the entire political system.