Independent political action committees, called PACs, spend huge amounts of money to elected officials. Politics means business. PACs generate thousands to millions of dollars. They maneuver the government away from basic governance to new flavors. Not necessarily better.
For years, people running for elected offices have been deriding independent Political Action Committees or PACs. It never seems to happen. As awful as PACs may be seen, they coexist behind the impressive democracy and republic that makes USA unique and a destination.
It’s all about group dynamics. PACs address how groups in the USA (and elsewhere) impact our daily lives. They rarely agree. Outcome and values are always at odds making unity a constant challenge. Here is a list of top-20 PAC contributions to candidates 2017 to 2018. Are they working for or against you?
Radio and TV are wonderful. Through the 20th century and into the 21st, one channel became thousands of channels for entertainment, news, and lifestyle enhancers. Yet many of us stick to our favorites. One’s favored channel list may be five or 10 channels. My list may be different than yours. Channels are the many pre-paved paths we follow and help us create our own. In societies where freedom of choice exist, reality defies tradition and values over dictatorial guidance. Yet these societies still flourish. Often people still have few choices and freedom comes at costs. Influence and power to choose is expensive. Do many seek influence by one or many? When it comes to group dynamics, any group, PACs guide unity and diversity. Independent United States secretly is an experiment how diversity remains unified. Are PACs vital values?
The old testament claims that a God created the Earth. Then came people. Surviving as groups of people. Some claim goddesses preceded gods and others believed that idols represented the divine aspects of god. Few believed in an abstract invisible one god. Other’s believe that God needed a son. Before liberals and conservatives, no group really was in agreement. It was a game of thrones. PACs (Political Action Committees) are to democracies what advisers are to monarchic royalty and dictators. They wield power as invisibilities and very divisible outside of traditional government structures. When thinking about lifestyles and living, PACs exert huge degrees of power behind the scenes.
The president, judicial system, congress, and senate have other people of many different interests that want to influence decisions. There are over 4,600 active, registered PACs are “connected PACs” established by businesses, labor unions, trade groups, or health organizations. Then there are almost unmeasurable PACs that are not connected. A non connected committee does not have a “connected organization”—that is, no corporation or labor organization establishes, administers or raises money for a non-connected committee. (An SSF, by definition, always has a sponsoring corporation or labor organization.) SSF are even more ominous PACs. A separate segregated fund (SSF) is a political organization that is tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code section 527. It may be a Traditional Federal PAC, State PAC, or a 527 organization that does not report to the Federal Election Commission. This may include religions, racial, and many others. All of these PACs work to influence our government.
Did you know that the Ku-Klux Klan (KKK) flourished as an influential PAC during Prohibition. The Klan’s main targets were immigrants from southern and eastern Europe, especially Catholic ones. It was clear that the KKK hated the Jews and Blacks. Prohibition, white Anglo-saxon protestant Americans advocated, would escalate drinking and criminality among the immigrants of the 1920’s. Prohibition was tied up in anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic bias, a clear KKK position that supported the Republican USA government. KKK revived after a major silent film, Birth of a Nation (1915) glorified the KKK. By 1921, membership in the Ku Klux Klan was rapidly spreading throughout America and an active chapter had been formed in Tulsa. On August 8, 1925 over 50,000 KKK members rallied and marched in Washington, DC. At another large KKK rally, in Queens, NYC, President Trump’s father (Fred Trump) was arrested. The KKK was a political power influencing politicians through the 1920’s. Fred Trump’s role in the riot is unclear. It is unclear how pervasive the KKK is today. According to Anti-Defammation League, KKK membership appears to be declining. An Alabama-based law center reported a sharp increase in neo-Nazi groups, from 99 in 2016 to 121 last year. And it counted a total of 954 active “hate groups” in 2017, an increase of 4 percent over the previous year. Do these have SSF PACs?
Then there are millions of writers, commentators, celebrities, and pundits that put-in their 2-cents that make-up the media. Within the tossed salad of the United States, via the internet, divisiveness lives and truths or facts become even more abstract. With 2020 elections coming, the voting public has much to discern before casting votes. Few go beyond Twitter to learn about other views.
Divisiveness and differences of opinions reflect free societies. Any person can express opinions and social media platforms are easy venues. Yet, public figures are under critical scrutiny by everyone. PACs work behinds those scenes. PACs can sidestep rules and regulations by creating as many as the prime organizations want over different classes of PACs.
PACs are neither good nor bad, depending on perspective. They do exert influence to elected officials and their staff. PACs have probably been around since the dawn of groups and politics. Just about any interest group you can think of has a presence in Washington-and spends money to maintain that presence. They do and can affect your life. PACs lobby elected officials with constancy.
Professional advocates make big bucks to lobby members of Congress and government officials on the issues their clients care about. But the money that industries, companies, unions and issue groups spend on lobbying is often just a drop in the bucket compared to what they can reap in return if their lobbyists are successful. Here you can see who spends what on federal lobbying and where they focus their resources. When you join religious organizations, AARP, ASPCA, even fraternal organizations, these and others have lobbies resourced through PACs.
Of course PACs have been very creative. Many thwart efforts of campaign finance reform.
For the longest time, campaign ads were almost exclusively produced by candidates and political parties, but in recent years outside issue groups have been getting in on the action. They often operate as so-called 527 committees (taking their name from the relevant section of the IRS tax code). Sometimes mysteriously named, these advocacy groups frequently have ties to labor, big business and super-wealthy individuals. Unlike political committees, they can accept unlimited contributions from just about anyone, and they deploy that money in various ways to influence elections.
Beyond international hacking, these 527 PACs operate within Cities, States, and Washington.
The Koch brothers, owners of Koch industries is a big business that works under 527 tax codes. Koch owns Invista, Georgia-Pacific, Molex, Flint Hills Resources, Koch Pipeline, Koch Fertilizer, Koch Minerals, Matador Cattle Company, and Guardian Industries. The firm employs 120,000 people in 60 countries, with about half of its business in the United States. In 2012, the Kochs’ network spent just under $400 million, an astonishing sum at the time. The $889 million spending goal for 2016 would put it on track to spend nearly as much as the campaigns of each party’s presidential nominee.
Koch supported Tea Party candidates and are against the Affordable Care Act. Most likely you are supporting Koch by buying one of their home paper products. Here are a list of companies and industries in which the Koch brothers own a stake: Paper Products: Angelsoft, Brawny, Dixie, Mardi Gras, Quilted Northern, Soft n Gentle, Sparkle, Vanity Fair. Another Koch company is Georgia-Pacific (largest plywood manufacturer in US. The Koch brothers support the Libertarian Party. Koch supports abolition of Social Security, the FBI, the CIA, and public schools. They favor and support candidates that agree.
So, when President Trump doesn’t want to share tax returns, it isn’t necessarily due to collusion with foreign entities. It can be more sinister. He might have strong bonds with 527-code PACs.
USA citizens seek peace, unity, economic security, education, comforts, and more. But who gets to share?
Over 310 Religions and Denominations are found in the United States. They do not coexist as a melting pot of values and traditions. They are more like a tossed salad. There are about 21 Christian religions in the United States. 75% of polled American adults identify themselves as Christian in 2015. Religion in the United States (2016) are polled as Protestantism (48.9%) Roman Catholicism (23.0%) Mormonism (1.8%) No religion (18.2%) Judaism (2.1%) Islam (0.8%). Each of these has a PAC.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there are currently over 1,000 hate groups throughout the United States. National Public Radio (NPR) posted that hate groups in the USA have increased 30% since 2015 and 7% in 2018 alone. An American Values Super PAC has been trying to form over past year as a Republican/Conservative PAC.
Let’s face it! Without fear of being punished, freedom breeds divisiveness. About 2-1/2 centuries since the first USA congress, this experiment of a free society has endured many conflicts with divisive perspectives. As people, we seem to relish in being divisive and unified. War has been part of civilization for over thousands of years.
Throughout history, individuals, states, or political factions have gained sovereignty over regions through the use of war. The history of one of the earliest civilizations in the world, that of Mesopotamia, is a chronicle of nearly constant strife. Even after Sargon the Great of Akkad (2334-2279 BCE) unified the region under the Akkadian Empire, war was still waged in putting down rebellions or fending off invaders. In those days, they fought for resources and slave labor. Today, war is economically sound.
Besides guns and bullets, our soldiers need many things. Companies, like those controlled by Koch brothers, compete for what toilet paper and napkins are bought for use, clothes and shoes, foods, accessories, and other necessities of survival from home.
All competitors have PACs influencing military branches and representatives for contracts. So if Koch PACs are contributing a billion dollars toward political leaders that are aligned with extreme conservative views, they gain on sales to resolve conflicts militarily. Influence gains profit. Military PACs don’t care about resources and slaves. They seek money and government on their side.
Political influence, power, money have been very influential in building Unites States’ vast infrastructure from railroads to highways to tunnels and bridges. Though these were the basis of how PACs began, many members of State and Federal representatives were profiting from certain projects.
In a way, divisiveness in 2019 aren’t that much different than the temperance and hate dynamics from after the Civil War 1865 to 1919 Prohibition. Different PACs, similar divisiveness.
Religious PACs are burning about abortion, political correctness, upward shifting roles of women, non-white races, and waves of immigration. They have been seeking leadership and strong support since the 1950’s but especially since the end of segregation in the 1970’s. Intolerance to these have risen. Liberalism has been added as a scapegoat. Their leader is President Donald Trump. About 45% (give or take 9%) population sympathetic within these PACs hope Trump will be their god. Ironically, this takes Lincoln’s famous words, “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” toward a division that the USA has witnessed more than once. We are aware of the influence business behind PACs. Will they shift the country to what they believe are traditional values? Will church and state take precedence again?
The First Amendment which ratified in 1791 states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” However, the phrase “separation of church and state” itself does not appear in the United States Constitution. The First Amendment not only allows citizens the freedom to practice any religion of their choice, but also prevents the government from officially recognizing or favoring any religion. By 1833, all states had disestablished religion from government, providing protections for religious liberty in state constitutions. American Value PACs do realize that governing by Church and State are unclear in the US Constitution. Religion in the United States is remarkable in its high adherence level compared to other developed countries. So…are American Values integrated as the white protestants of past 300 years?
Given many alternative views, PACs represent the voices and needs of the many groups of these United States – from people to the environment. They help our elected representatives remember diverse priorities. Of course, wealthy PACs bear more weight than small ones. When it comes to business, these PACs have many interests.
Throughout it all, even with social media politics, PACs remain in (backyard) control. There’s an apathy in the USA about voting, viewing debates, and reading candidate websites. Getting everyone to vote is even harder. Most people already have an idea what party they’ll choose. No one is demonstrating. There are no protests. Few write their representatives via e-mail. Through all the bickering, 2020 is really hanging on a lottery draw. Behind all the media, PACs may control the outcome as invisible motivators behind the scenes.
Growing after dormancy of 100 years, are Progressive PACs and GOP-Lite (mid-road PACs). They struggle to recreate a cohesive identity. It’s a very big struggle as huge PACs feed the extremes. Over 100 years ago, Progressive meant pro-Unions – indivisible PACs. In the 1960’s, with the Vietnam war and military draft affecting the young, civil rights (etc) the “New Left” was the name loosely associated with liberal, radical, Marxist political movements that took place during the 1960’s, primarily among college students. These fizzled since then. Transitioning to more left PACs takes time. It takes greater identity and willingness to demonstrate like the 1900’s and the 1960’s.
Virtually any cause is somehow represented by a PAC seeking exposure and influence.
By the people and for the people has, in some ways, been taken over by PACs. Trump relies on his 43% base of followers almost as a PAC than a President. The other 57% need a voice. PACs try to bring back their perceptual views of facts and reasoning to the USA.
Within a global economy, to realize the dream that Abraham Lincoln intoned: By the people, of the people, and for the people. When we say “We the people”, we are us. We must remember that no elected official is greater. PACs do not have to be instigators into divisiveness. Divisiveness results when interests are in sharp oppositions. The right to vote for your candidate is priceless. Study their possible link to PACs. Politics is and always has been business, your business and lifestyle.