Recently, the Supreme Court threw out about a hundred years worth of restrictions on political speach by corporations and opened the door to unlimited spending on ads by corporations and unions. Obama went out of his way to condemn the ruling during his state of the union, and pundits have generally panned the decision.
I, on the other hand, think it's a perfectly good ruling, and should be applauded. Opposition to the idea is based on the concept that corporate money will corrupt our politicians. Well, duh! It's happening right now, untelevised. Rather than purchasing ads, corporations purchase lobbyists who make sure that the friends and relatives of politicians live very comfortably. Compared to the present practice, an actual ad broadcast on TV for all the world to see would be a ray of sunshine. If Too Big to Fail Bank wants to spend a few hundred million to support a candidate, I think that's great. Once it's out in the open who the bank wants in their pocket, I'll know who to vote against!
My strong suspicion is that you'll see unions taking advantage of this more than corporations. Unions have pretty much gone all in on Democrats. When Republican's are in power, they don't have much voice. Corporations, however, tend to be a little more flexible. The money flows to whoever has the power. I don't think you'll see, for instance, Big Oil throwing all their advertising to Republican candidates because they know that political power ebbs and flows. They are going to want to make sure both sides like them.
Of course, corporations may not advertise for or against candidates, but might instead throw all their money into ads for or against specific laws. But, why shouldn't this be allowed? As long as the actual corporate sources are always identified (which the court ruling specifically allowed), I think that the public is going to be able to judge themselves if the needs of the corporation match their own needs.
It's true, that with more money, corporations can outspend private citizens. But, I've seen plenty of elections in my time where money didn't matter. When I lived in Greensboro, a collection of large corporate interests in the area decided they wanted to bring a major league team to Greensboro. They were going to use public money to build a ball park, and thought it was going to be an easy sell. They blanketed the airwaves with ads in favor of the ball park, they had ads on busses and in newspapers, they had PR firms in full gear selling the Big League Dream.
In opposition, there were just a few citizens groups with very little funding. They were outspent at least 20 to 1 on advertising. And when the vote came... it wasn't even close. The corporate giants lost and the little guys won.
So, don't panic. Corporate political advertising isn't going to bring about the death of America. It's the stuff going on off the airwaves that will kill us.