What is a PAC? A PAC is a political action committee, which is essentially little more than an arm of a public interest group that is best described in terms of a propaganda and money-making machine designed to subvert the very spirit of democracy. A PAC is legally entitled to entice money from contributors who may be members, employees, or even stockholders. These funds are then siphoned off to the political candidate most likely to put the interests of those contributors ahead of any other interest. A PAC can also use this money to finance not specific candidates but advertising ploys concerned with a specific issue or, in most cases, a non-issue that nonetheless succeeds in irking potential voters out of apathy and into the voting booth.
One of the great political ironies of our times concerns the genesis of the political action committee. The most successful PACs have always been those on the right wing of the spectrum. In part this is because it is easier to raise a lot of money from Republicans because they tend to be better off financially than rank and file Democrats. In part, this is because conservatives have focused their attention on social issues that don’t really mean anything as far as how the country is actually run, but succeeds in far more in irking potential voters. Think about such “issues” as abortion, Swift Boat and Willie Horton and you get the drift. Political action committees were and continue to be used to distract the attention away from the real issues of the day-like turning John Kerry, against all odds, into the candidate having to explain Vietnam in the 2004 election instead of making voters question why even as far back as 2004 we knew Pres. Bush had lied to get us into a war. The irony is that even though the Republicans and conservatives have won many close elections as a result of voter distraction via PACs, they were actually invented by labor unions; the scourge of the big business power base of the Republican Party. The very first political action committee was organized by none other than legendary United Mine Workers leader John L. Lewis in the 1930s. It was called the Non-Partisan Political League and was the political action arm of the CIO.
By the 1970s PACs had been associated with unions for almost half a century and had seen success. It was only to be expected that the rich money men whose lies were being slowly exposed should attempted to obfuscate reality. The 1970s saw the first growth of political action committees by the ownership class. By the time Richard Nixon left office in disgrace there were only about 150 PACs. Today, they number in the thousands. Over the years there have been many attempts to reduce the influence of PACs through legislative reform and there have been many scandals associated with undue influence of PACs, the most famous being that associated with Charles Keating. Being involved in that particular scandal didn’t seem to hurt the career of straight-talking John McCain, however, who has even had the guts to position himself as leader in the crusade against PAC abuse.
Although the political action committee is a tornado sweeping across the political landscape of America, it is most effective in terms of getting money to a candidate that bypasses many of the same laws that people like John McCain love to tout as an examples of campaign finance reform. In fact, all legislation that was designed to fix the problems associated with campaign fundraising can easily be avoided simply by getting money to a candidate through a PAC. In other words, regardless of what anyone tells you, there has no been no genuine election fundraising overhaul since the 1970s. There are laws regarding how much money an individual can give to a PAC and limitations to how much a PAC can give to a candidate, but there are no laws governing how many different PACs can exist with the same goal in mind.
There is one very simple way to eliminate all the influence that not only PACs have but all special interest groups. If the voters of the United States would demand that taxes be used to finance campaigning, it would ensure that not only the rich get to hold office. It would also ensure that, for the first time in American history, the people got a real choice in candidates for the Presidency.