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The Ten Million Dollar Question

This January, Sheldon Adelson’s unprecedented $5 million contribution to a Political Action Committee supporting Newt Gingrich, quickly followed by a matching donation to the PAC from Adelson’s wife, showed the potential consequences of the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens United case. Mr. Gingrich surfaced from under a barrage of advertisements financed by Mitt Romney’s campaign to surge to the front of the race for the Republican presidential nomination, winning the primary in South Carolina by 12 percentage points over Mr. Romney. According to The New York Times, “Mr. Adelson’s contribution to the super PAC is 1,000 times the $5,000 he could legally give directly to Mr. Gingrich’s campaign this year.”

Wealthy individuals are able to contribute increasingly exorbitant sums to candidates, campaign costs have skyrocketed, and advertising wields growing power in the all-encompassing world of social media. At the same time, Deerfield seniors prepare to cast their votes in caucuses, primaries, and the 2012 presidential election. At this instant, the question of our generation comes into focus. What is the relationship between money and ideas, including those such as climate change, reproductive rights, and collective bargaining?

Students, teachers, and alumni, young and old, have expressed interest in holding an open discussion of these issues. The Scroll particularly would enjoy covering a type of student panel, open forum, or teach-in on the relationship between money and freedom of thought in contemporary culture. I believe that this issue—sensitive, complicated, and intensely political and ethical—is of utmost importance to the Deerfield community and that we must discuss it in a serious, thorough manner if we wish to be an intelligent, thoughtful, and moral institution.

To students, especially seniors and especially community leaders: the support of teachers and administrators can only take us so far. One of you must take the initiative. The Scroll offers its full support in the form of knowledge, resources, discussion, and an open forum of publication in launching this talk on campus. Please send any thoughts, however informal or irate, to agonzales@deerfield.edu or ewhitton@deerfield.edu.

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