Sparkly Things That Distract Us From the Really Bad Stuff

The Washington Post has a story about evidence that non-citizens sometimes manage to vote in U.S. elections. The story is a bit squishy about actual numbers, however. It seems to be a very small number, although in an extremely close local election a small number of votes matters.

Note also that the story says there’s no evidence requiring photo IDs at the polls makes any difference. People who manage to register and vote without being citizens don’t seem to have a problem getting photo IDs. Duh. Interestingly, the authors of the article suggest that non-citizens most likely to vote possibly don’t understand they aren’t legally allowed to vote. More educated non-citizens are less likely to try.

Anyway, since these non-citizens tend to vote for Democrats, the wingnuts are freaking out.  The Right increasingly has to depend on gerrymandering and voter suppression to win elections, so it’s understandable that they’d seize upon any excuse for why it’s becoming harder for them to win elections fair and square on an even playing field.

But while the Right is having an outrage spasm over what may be a relative handful of illegal votes — as I said, the article is squishy about actual numbers — millions of dollars in dark money are underwriting much of the current campaign season. Thanks to Citizens United, we have no way to ensure that voters aren’t being “educated” and influenced by ads and literature paid for by foreign governments, companies and interest groups. And those foreign interests may not have America’s interests in mind.

Nicholas Confessore writes,

More than half of the general election advertising aired by outside groups in the battle for control of the US Congress has come from organizations that disclose little or nothing about their donors, a flood of secret money that is now at the center of a debate over the line between free speech and corruption.

The advertising, which has overwhelmingly benefited Republican candidates, is largely paid for by nonprofit groups and trade associations, some of which are established with the purpose of shielding the wealthy individuals and corporations that contribute. More money is being spent on advertising by the secret donors than by super PACs, the explicitly political committees whose fortunes have dominated attention with the rise of big money in politics.

Andy Kroll wrote back in 2012,

… for the secretive nonprofit groups pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into the 2012 elections, the rules are different. These outfits, organized under the 501(c) section of the US tax code, can take money from foreign citizens, foreign labor unions, and foreign corporations, and they don’t have to tell voters about it because they don’t publicly disclose their donors. What’s more, with a savvy attorney and a clean paper trail, a foreign donor could pump millions into a nonprofit without even the nonprofit knowing the money’s true origin.

We don’t know that foreign interests are trying to sway the election, but we don’t know that they aren’t. We have no way to know. Although foreign money is supposed to stay out of our elections, thanks to Citizens United it wouldn’t be impossible for foreign elements indifferent or even hostile to American interests to influence how Americans vote. And if such interests haven’t tried it yet, they’ll get around to it eventually.

But you can’t get most wingnuts to understand why that’s a problem. Our righties are simple critters, easily distracted by the little stuff so they don’t notice the big stuff.

13 thoughts on “Sparkly Things That Distract Us From the Really Bad Stuff

  1. Maybe if we non-conservatives started referring to “Citizens United” as “Foreign Citizens and Corporations United Against America’s Interests,” our Reich-Wingers might have an epiphany.

    Or course, I guess what would qualify as an epiphany in a conservative’s mind, is like the change in sea-level if a 12 year-old child pee’s in the ocean: quickly overwhelmed by the prevailing waters and winds.

    So, never mind…

  2. Regarding this survey, I smell several rats. Who among the immigrant population would respond to this survey? For the most part, people who are undocumented and are afraid of being deported are going to avoid it, as are people whose English skills aren’t the best. So there are probably few if any respondents from the groups of people who give wingnuts fits. And then, beyond, that, it’s self-reporting. These people say they’re non-citizens who’ve registered and voted. Are they? I don’t know why you’d lie about this — maybe because, Also,where some of them are from, it’s expected of you to participate in civic processes? I also smell a rat when this is coming out a week and a half before Election Day, with little time for analysis and refutation. That emits the odor of rat, too.

  3. I agree with Steve regarding the rats.

    The NRA promotes a survey where participants self report the use of guns in stopping crimes. Of course it’s highly suspect, so I gave it a brief second glance and found that the NYT had looked into it. According to the NYT the NRA’s numbers were off by a factor of forty, aside from the self reporting issue.

    We live in an age where no device that has the potential to deliver a few votes is overlooked. The timing of this makes me very suspicious.

  4. Even without any figures common sense would dictate that the number of non citizens voting in our elections would be infinitesimal.

    Florida recently went through the conservative’s voter fraud charade to root out the “rampant” fraud…The final result after thousands of people were denied their vote based on possible voter fraud there were only 4 cases of documented fraud. And of those documented cases none of them proved to be intentional fraud. They were people who had felony convictions in their past but weren’t aware that their felony conviction carried with it the loss of their right to vote until that right was restored.
    Gov. Scott spent millions of dollars in taxpayer money to root out a nonexistent voter fraud issue. His campaign to drug test people on public assistance had a return of 2% positive. A big whopping success….at least in the sense that it divides a population into an us and them mentality. I think Paulie Ryan refers to “them” as inner city people who never learned, or aren’t capable of learning the work ethic.

  5. Swami,
    I suspect that the conservatives don’t really care at all about how many REAL cases of voter fraud there are.
    Their goal, is to make voting seem like a hassle with all of these ID’s and other things, so that more and more people stay home rather than deal with the BS.

    Actually, I more than suspect it.
    I think that’s what’s behind it all.

    If people stay home, the Republicans have a better chance of winning.

    The only hope we have – and it happened in the 2012 election – is that when you really do try to deny certain people the right to vote, it pisses them off and motivates them even more to go and cast their vote.

  6. No matter how dead the horse is, with enough money on hand, it can be flogged for a few votes.

    Here we have Kay Hagan squarely in the sights of right wing money. The anti-Hagan ads have cropped up on youtube. My god, they are awful. It’s hard for me to imagine that they would sway anyone. But, I’ve definitely been wrong before.

    If you remember the “I’m a Mormon” series, try to imagine something that actually makes those relatively palatable, and you will have an idea.

    Here in NC, as bad as our governor is, my heart goes out to the people of Florida.

  7. “We don’t know that foreign interests are trying to sway the election, but we don’t know that they aren’t.”

    This is where the Democratic Party falls down on the job, they just don’t know how to fight. If the shoe was on the other foot and it was democrats that were largely benefiting from the dark money the republicants would be out in force, accusing the liberals of pimping for foreign interests, not pimping for foreign interests than disclose your donors, if you won’t disclose than you are pimping for foreign interests. You better believe that is what would happen! The only good that will come out of losing the senate (I hope they don’t but) is they can finally cast Harry Reid aside; he has been a disastrous majority leader it is well past time for a change.

  8. The most comprehensive legislation out there designed to fix money in elections is the American Anti-Corruption Act. Here’s something worth noting – the act was designed by Trent Lott Trevor Potter, a former head of the FEC. He served as General Counsel to the 2000 and 2008 Presidential campaigns of John McCain and Deputy General Counsel to the George H.W. Bush 1988 campaign. Whaaaaaattt??!!!

    True, my friends. This guy is GOP through and through and he’s not sold out. Faux News is devoted to supporting the machine that coughs up dark money to buy politicians. The democratic machine is opposed to the dark money that gives the GOP an advantage, but you won’t hear the democratic party propose or support real comprehensive reform – only the part of the system that gives crooked republicans an advantage over crocked democrats.

    The entire network and cable news media system is sold out – because big money elections boost profits. This election is on track to be a record-breaking mid term election. No TV network – Fox or MSNBC is going to do a major story on campaign finance reform. The quest for profit trumps ideology everywhere.

    Disgust for the existing system is universal – among voters. The parties are corrupt – the networks are all bought and paid for. The question is how to build a populist network that bridges the ultra-partisan gap and forces (from the voter base of both parties) legislation and a constitutional amendment that almost all members of congress of both parties are loathe to even discuss.

  9. Correction – I got the name wrong. The American Anti-Corruption Act was written by Trevor Potter – not Trent Lott. Chalk it up to a brain fart. Barbara, if you can insert a correction into a comment.. I hate putting out a wrong fact. As Heinlein once put it –

    “I shot an error in the air.. and it’s still going everywhere!

    • Did the article claim “massive” non-citizen voting? I looked through it trying to figure out what it was claiming, exactly, and it made no sense. As I said, it was very squishy.

Comments are closed.