Politics 1956

Politics 1956 - Campaigning for votes is the same as it's always been. It's just that money . . . . (photo: Sen. LBJ Stumps for votes)

Power And Politics – 1956 – Past Daily Reference Room

Politics 1956
Politics 1956 – Campaigning for votes is the same as it’s always been. It’s just that money . . . . (photo: Senator LBJ Stumps For Votes)

American Forum – Power and Politics – Senator Richard Neuberger (D-Oregon) – Senator Barry Goldwater (R-Arizona) April 29, 1956 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

Politics; it never changes. All about power, influence and favors. Especially during election season when war chests are overflowing and ads seem to run non-stop. Although in 2022, the climate and the mechanics have changed dramatically since 1956, the core of the issue is still there and probably always will be: what does power buy and what are the mechanics to make that happen.

In 1956 there were campaign regulations that stipulated no candidate could receive more than $5,000 from any individual contribution. Since that time we’ve the introduction of Citizens United and the cap has been taken off and contributions have gone off the charts.

In 2010 a conser­vat­ive nonprofit group called Citizens United chal­lenged campaign finance rules after the FEC stopped it from promot­ing and airing a film criti­ciz­ing pres­id­en­tial candid­ate Hillary Clin­ton too close to the pres­id­en­tial primar­ies.

A 5–4 major­ity of the Supreme Court sided with Citizens United, ruling that corpor­a­tions and other outside groups can spend unlim­ited money on elec­tions.

In the court’s opin­ion, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that limit­ing “inde­pend­ent polit­ical spend­ing” from corpor­a­tions and other groups viol­ates the First Amend­ment right to free speech. The justices who voted with the major­ity assumed that inde­pend­ent spend­ing cannot be corrupt and that the spend­ing would be trans­par­ent, but both assump­tions have proven to be incor­rect.

With its decision, the Supreme Court over­turned elec­tion spend­ing restric­tions that date back more than 100 years. Previ­ously, the court had upheld certain spend­ing restric­tions, arguing that the govern­ment had a role in prevent­ing corrup­tion. But in Citizens United, a bare major­ity of the justices held that “inde­pend­ent polit­ical spend­ing” did not present a substant­ive threat of corrup­tion, provided it was not coordin­ated with a candid­ate’s campaign.

As a result, corpor­a­tions can now spend unlim­ited funds on campaign advert­ising if they are not form­ally “coordin­at­ing” with a candid­ate or polit­ical party.

The fear in 1956 was that, increasing campaign contribution limits would lead to an unprecedented number of “campaign favors” granted” and that whole question of our Political campaign system would be at risk.

This debate (or sorts) features two (at the time) Freshman Senators; Richard Neuberger (D-Oregon) and Senator Barry Goldwater (R-Arizona).

To get an idea of just how much things have changed to the political landscape, here is that episode of American Forum from April 29, 1956.

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