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Friday, July 01, 2022

I am officially alarmed by President Barack Obama's hypocrisy.

The Supreme Court case Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission was a landmark decision that allows so-called super PACs to collect unlimited and undisclosed funds from corporations to spend on political campaigns. For months, Obama denounced the decision and shunned these unlimited contributions. Obama — having reversed his position last Monday and given his blessing to his super PAC — is nothing short of a hypocrite.

Since the Supreme Court released the ruling, Obama railed that unlimited corporate spending was "a threat to our democracy." In his 2010 State of the Union address, Obama said of the decision, "I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests." Monday morning, Obama spoke against the "negative" tone of the super PACs. By Monday evening, word had leaked that Obama decided to allow his super PAC, Priorities USA Action, to raise the unlimited funds he once condemned.

In less than 24 hours, Obama went from decrying super PACs to endorsing their money. Will he stop at nothing to win re-election?

Embracing the very same policies he once denounced is the definition of duplicitous. Make no mistake, Obama made a political calculation. Having seen that Mitt Romney's super PAC raised more than $30 million compared to Obama's mere $4.1 million, he became worried. He knew that without his blessing, his super PAC would not be able to collect donations. He would not be able to compete with the Republican nominee in 2012. He would not be able to win re-election.

In a blog post attempting to explain the decision, Obama's campaign manager, Jim Messina, states the Citizens United decision represents "a dangerous trend toward a political system increasingly dominated by big-money interests with disproportionate power to spend freely to influence our elections and our government."

But the president has no choice but to embrace the system. Fight fire with fire. His campaign manager whines that they cannot "play by two different sets of rules." Mr. President, you do not change the system by embracing it. You cannot preach against something and then practice it. You cannot shout a call for change and then participate in the very same things you wish to change.

Make no mistake: I completely agree that the Citizens United ruling is the single most harmful thing to happen to our political process in the last century. I believe the president was correct in his initial stance opposing the decision. But now that he is collecting the fruits of a decision he opposes, I fear that our political system will devolve into something unrecognizable.

I knew it would happen. Politicians would take an initial stance against the decision, but they would eventually realize that they could never compete in an election against candidates who embraced these unlimited funds. Ultimately, opposition would fizzle out as candidates embraced the multi-million dollar corporate checks. Money talks, and right now it's shouting "re-election."

Mark my words, if our campaign finance laws remain unchanged, our political system will become more corrupt than ever in the history of this country. Anonymous corporations will write multi-million dollar checks to candidates and eventually exercise powerful control over our government. Big banks and big businesses will buy politicians and policies will follow.

The president is like a captain who is steering this ship of state. He should not be swayed by the political winds or the currents of convenience. He must remain on course to arrive at the destination. Our destination should be finding a way of reversing this Supreme Court ruling. Our destination should be campaign finance reform. Our destination should not be hypocrisy.

Garrett Bruno is a political science sophomore at UF.

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