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The Civil Podcast 003

On Citizens United, No Labels, Biden v. Trump, and the wars in Ukraine and Gaza

Elliot Ackerman is a former Marine, New York Times best selling author of seven novels and two works of nonfiction, and - most interesting for our purposes here - the former Chief Operating Officer of Americans Elect; a group that was a forerunner to No Labels.

In the podcast, Elliot walks through two legal decisions that have dramatically changed politics in recent years. One, everyone knows about, and another, which almost no one knows about.

The first is Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (FEC). Before Citizens United, most political fundraising happened with 527s (527, 520c4, etc. are references to the tax codes that govern these activities). These organizations - such as the Republican and Democratic National Committees - have strict limits on fundraising. However, after the Citizens United decision, 501c4 organizations were permitted to raise unlimited money for political campaigns without disclosing donors. This ruling, Elliot said, “flooded the zone with money… disaggregated political power as the power of the purse has been disaggregated,” diminished the influence of the RNC and DNC, and made nonaligned super PACs the most powerful force in politics.

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Here you'll find two podcasts: First, The Civil Podcast (formerly Steelman/Strawman), in which we talk with guests from across politics, media, and culture to explore the best forms of opposing arguments. Second, The Spies and Lies podcast, Ian and Suzanne will analyze the latest news, interview newsmakers, and do deep dives into politics and international affairs.