Video: Ezra Klein of interviews Harvard Professor Lawrence Lessig about the dark money challenge to democracy

The United States Senate voted 79-18 yesterday to proceed to debate on a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s decisions in Citizens United and McCutcheon v FEC, which have opened the floodgates to a tidal wave of dark money in politics.

Though unlikely to pass with a two-thirds majority, or to pass the Republican-led House by any margin, Senate Democrats have clearly chosen to use the issue to set themselves apart from Republicans for the November midterm elections.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell clearly believes the debate will distract from other business that he would like to leave undone. The effects of the court’s rulings have mainly redounded to the benefit of Republicans, so it is little wonder that they defend dark money as “free speech.”

The move comes after President Obama bowed to the wishes of Senate Democrats by putting off a promised series of executive orders resolving some immigration issues until after the elections. Some hard-pressed incumbents in reactionary ‘red states’ reportedly feared that the move would lead to their electoral defeat.

Both of the federal agencies that might check the explosive growth of dark money, the IRS and the Federal Elections Commission, have endured unrelenting attacks by conservatives since the Citizens United ruling.