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Monday, February 20, 2012

The Illiad and Independent Expenditures

So, Zeus was a fan of the Acheans, but especially Achilles. Since Achilles was mad at Agamemnon for taking from Achilles the woman he had captured as his slave, Zeus was helping the Trojans win battles against the Acheans, led by Agamemnon. Posiedon, on the other hand, couldn't stand to watch the Acheans get slaughter, but because Zeus had commanded that there be no interference, he could not coordinate with the Acheans openly. Put another way:
Then two mighty sons of Cronos, at cross purposes,
made painful trouble for those mortal warriors.
Zeus wanted victory for Hector and his Trojans,
to give swift Achilles glory—not that he wished
Achaea's army to be totally destroyed
in front of Troy, but he did want to honour Thetis,
and her great-hearted son, as well, Achilles.
But Poseidon moved around among the Argives,
urging action, coming out in secret from the sea,
angry that Trojans were destroying Achaeans,
and incensed at Zeus. Both gods had a common father—
the same family, too—but Zeus was older and more wise.
So Poseidon avoided giving any overt help.
He did his work in secret through the army,
in human form, rousing men to fight. So these two
looped the cords of powerful war and deadly strife
around both contending armies, then pulled them taut,
a knot no one could undo or slip away from,
a knot that broke the limbs of many fighting men.
The Illiad, Book XIII.

As a campaign finance lawyer, this strikes me as similar to our current system for funding campaigns. The "sons of Cronos" in the political arena would be well funded corporations, labor organizations, and ideological political organizations. By removing any regulations associated with independent expenditures, we've created a peculiar environment where the vast majority of money spent directly advocating for the election or defeat of a candidate will be spent by groups who by law cannot coordinate with the candidate himself or herself. These groups can obviously have as complex and seemingly contradictory motivations as Zeus did in wanting the Acheans to win, but only if with Achilles.

Of course, if one is interested in influencing the political landscape, I suppose working within one of these sons of Cronos would not be a bad idea.

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