The Super-rich and the new order of American politics

I don’t know what’s going on, but I keep coming across interesting journalism in Politico.  The latest– a journalist’s account of his attempts to infiltrate the Koch’s annual big money gathering.  Interesting details and this conclusion nails it:

Indian Wells was a snapshot of an extraordinary shift: the reordering of the political system by an elite fraternity of the superrich and a small brain trust of consultants who cater to them. Starting in 2010, a few dozen of the wealthiest donors turned on a gusher of mega-checks that have made them more important than the thousands of grassroots activists, small individual donors and even party leaders put together. Together, these donors have injected into campaigns sums that were once unimaginable, even as recently as the 2008 presidential election.

Intentionally or not, this new system has eroded the power of the official parties that have rigidly controlled modern politics for decades by doling out or withholding pork-barrel spending earmarks and campaign cash. Suddenly, party leaders have none of the former to offer (the result of symbolic belt-tightening reforms), and far less of the latter than big donors operating outside the party system. The result—the one Obama lamented on that rainy day in Washington state—is the privatization of a system that we’d always thought of as public. It amounts to the takeover—hostile or not—of American politics by the ultra-rich.

There’s absolutely no way you can remotely justify this as good for democracy.  Unless you are a Republican politician, sadly.

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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