On her show Wednesday night, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow wondered if Democrats would be able to successfully fight back against unlimited and undisclosed contributions.
Maddow first illustrated how tobacco companies were able to successfully battle against a California ballot initiative that would have raised funds for cancer research by adding additional taxes to cigarettes. Public polling had found that 67 percent of voters approved, but the tobacco companies spent nearly $50 million to convince voters that the initiative was a bad idea.
"Fifty million well spent dollars can make 'I hate cancer' a losing idea," she quipped. "Fifty million well spent dollars could make apple pie and loving your mother a losing idea."
The Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United ruling struck down key provisions of the federal McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law and gave rise to Super PACS, which can raise an unlimited amount of money to influence federal elections as long as they do not directly coordinate with a candidate’s campaign. Super PACs have also exploited a loophole that allows them to postpone the disclosure of their donors until after the elections they participate in.
"In just about every election, if you are outspent eight-to-one, then you are going to lose," Maddow said. "There is occasionally going to be a Hail Mary, miracle underdog, but over time, structurally speaking, remove the personality and just think about this in political science terms, if you are outspent that kind of way -- the way that Republicans can outspend Democrats with unlimited corporate money -- the Democrats are going to lose."
Democrats have called for the Citizens United ruling to be overturned with a constitutional amendment, but the proposal is almost unanimously opposed by Republicans. Maddow described the amendment as a "very, very long term goal."
"Do Democrats have a realistic way to survive in elections to even try to get to the medium term, let alone that long term, if Republicans are systematically defunding the Democratic Party in a way that renders Democrats incapable of competing?"
Watch video, courtesy of MSNBC, below: