In American politics, money equals speech, so it stands to reason that a lot of money equals a lot of speech. The U.S. Supreme Court, in its 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commissioncase, ruled as much – and it has led to “unprecedented amounts of outside spending” in elections since, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
And while many applauded the high court’s ruling as a victory for political “free speech” and the First Amendment, others have roundly criticized it as a ruling enshrining the notion that really, when all is said and done, American democracy is the best money can buy.
“The case, along with other legal developments, spawned the creation of super PACs, which can accept unlimited contributions from corporate and union treasuries, as well as from individuals; these groups spent more than $600 million in the 2012 election cycle,” the center said. “It also triggered a boom in political activity by tax-exempt ‘dark money’ organizations that don’t have to disclose their donors.”
Every possible industry has jumped into the fray, spending hundreds of billions of dollars (collectively) to push their preferred candidates, their preferred legal cases, and their preferred market positions, all in an attempt to win favor with a federal government that has never been more for sale.
The pharmaceutical companies make out like bandits
Big Pharma is a massive case in point.