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Why Super PACs are destroying their own candidates

Four years ago, I remember watching commercials that ended with “I’m (insert candidate’s name here) and I approve this message.”

I haven’t heard that as much this time around and I don’t intend to.  I’m blaming this on the rise of SuperPACs.

In 2010, the rules changed.  Businesses and corporations could now give unlimited funds to a SuperPAC in efforts to support a candidate.  Rather than President Obama or former Governor Romney having to raise money, they can mostly rely on these SuperPACs to raise funds for ads on television, radio, the web, etc.

So far, I don’t have a problem.  It is weird that the majority of the leaders are former campaign aids of the candidate.  It is sketchy that almost half of the money donated to Super PACs comes from under 25 individuals.  Something does seem off when candidates have no control over the Super PAC that supports them (i.e. Romney’s rebuttal to Gingrich at a recent debate claiming he hasn’t seen all of the commercials from Restore Our Future Now campaign that supports him, implying he cannot control what they say).

There are some troubling facts above but the thing that is most distressing to me is this:  Most Super PACs actually function to tear down and destroy an opposing candidate rather than to build up their own candidate.  That’s not too big of a surprise in a hyper-aggresive political climate, but Super PACs, with the funding of billionaires and businesses, could take this atmosphere to new levels.

Though Super PACs are new, political action committees are not.  They were present and played a role in the 2008 and 2004 elections.  I believe they are the reason that so many of us have the mindset of “voting for the lesser of two evils” in an election.

We no longer hear the good side of any candidate.  We only hear the negative things.  We don’t hear about all the great things a candidate has accomplished anymore.  We only know the darkest and dirtiest things about them – and we hear them often.

I don’t have research or statistics to back this up, but it is my gut feeling that all of the negative ads we see – all of the lampooning made from Super PAC heads on the news, the ads and all of the false information and rumors they leak – actually turn us off to the whole thing.  All of that negative spin actually makes us dislike all the candidates.  And not because an ad said something terrible about them – but because we can feel (perhaps unconsciously) how gross and sinful the act of tearing each other down is, no matter what the cause.

Florida’s primary was the most negative campaign ever.  It’s likely to steep to lower places and the Super PACs will lead the way.

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