Take it from two United States senators from both sides of the aisle who have decades of experience in public life: Campaign-finance rules have a tremendous impact on the public policy agenda in Congress. Contrary to the popular perception, the prospect of getting — or not getting — a check from an individual or political action committee does not drive the typical decision on Capitol Hill. But decision-making is often colored by the prospect of facing $5 million in anonymous attacks ads if a member of Congress crosses an economically powerful interest.
This influx of unregulated political cash stemming from the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision spawned a particularly vitriolic political cycle. Groups on both sides dumped some $6 billion into tearing down candidates for public office. The anonymity of much of this spending encourages ads that lower the level of political discourse and makes it harder, not easier, for Americans to make informed decisions. Most of all, this spending ensured that those elected in November would carry that pressure for strict and absolute partisanship back to Washington, hobbling our efforts to govern for another two years.
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