Super PAC

Super PAC. n. (Acronym/Neologism) Short for “super political action committee”, officially known as “independent-expenditure only committees”, is an organization able to accept unlimited political donations from individuals, corporations, unions, and other groups. Super PAC’s are also free to engage in unlimited spending independently of political campaigns (Center for Responsive Politics, 2010).

Etymology:

  • Super” means ” above, over, beyond”. The english prefix has multiple origins including Avestan upairi “over, above, beyond,” Greek hyper, Old English ofer “over,” Gothic ufaro “over, across”.
  • Political” is a borrowing from Latin “politicus” meaning “of citizens or the state” and the English suffix “-al” adjectifier.
  • Action” has multiple origins: French “accioun” (action, lawsuit, case) and Latin “actiōn-” , āctiō” (a putting in motion; a performing).
  • Committee” is from Latin “committere” meaning “to unite” and a revival of Anglo-French “commite” which is the past participle of “commettre” meaning “to commit”.

Sociolectal Information: Previously the primary method of campaign financing was political action committees (PAC). PAC’s were heavily regulated by political finance laws and were not able to accept individual donations higher than $2,500, or corporate and union contributions at all. These limits were mostly removed by the Supreme Court in the Citizens United v. FEC decision, making it effectively very easy for political influence to be bought by corporate and union interests, thus the “super” part of the name.

Survival Predictions: Unlike its official and lengthy name “independent-expenditure only committees”, super PAC is short and concise. “Super” refers to the power these groups yield, and “PAC” refers to the technical group function without actually spelling out the full name. It is also easier to pronounce. The word had just gained relevance since the Citizen United decision back in 2010, and has been a contentious topic in the current presidential election cycle. For example, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump both denies funding from corporate interests, making the argument that politics should not be purchasable by money, especially those that represent corporate or union interests. Therefore the word is likely to stay relevant for a while.

Lexopinions: Super PAC is one of the words that are popular among a noticeable proportion of the population, but not popular enough for the general public to either know what they mean or exactly what they do. That being said, the word usage was definitely made more popular due to the current heated election cycle. Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are two candidates that receives a lot of press because of the claim that they both receive no corporate funding and deem super PAC’s detrimental to campaign efficiency and authenticity. That being said both has backed down on the claim that no corporate interest sponsored their campaigns. It is very likely that as long as legislation allows, there will be more apparent effects of money on politics, and there will be super PAC’s in Washington, and in the O.E.D. of politics.

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