Sunday, September 17, 2017

Dark Money and Why They Win

Reading "Dark Money" by Jane Mayer for a book club, I can understand why the Tea Party Republicons have been able to gain control of all three branches of government and both houses of the legislature.

Mitch McConnell is depicted as teaching a class in college, writing on the blackboard the three essentials for gaining and maintaining political power: "Money, money, money."

And the right has the money. Yes, the left had George Soros, but there are a dozen George Soros's on the right, most especially the Koch brothers.

As the Koch brothers are quick to point out, they've spent billions on elections their candidates lost, so money is not enough, but what they and their cohort have done is to provide the money that keeps enough right wing nuts continuously employed, and over time, with enough think tank cranks churning out stuff, feeding Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, it has an irresistible cumulative effect.

When Hillary Clinton described a "vast right wing conspiracy" she was engaging in what might be described as significant understatement.

The relentlessness, the desperation of the right is several orders of magnitude higher than that of the left because for the left, this is simply a matter of principle and the leftists have other things to do with their weekends like reading, or fishing or going to dinner and discussing Proust.  The right wing considers their expenses as essential to protecting their billions, their vast vaults of gold. For the right, the idea is they are protecting all their hard earned winnings; for the left political activity is just another expression of their ideals. 

It is true that Hillary Clinton outspent Donald Trump 9 to 1 in some counties and still lost, and you might think that argues that Citizens United and the Koch brothers don't matter because, well, what does money translate into?  Money is used to buy TV ads and to do oppositional research and to pay people to campaign for you, but if those ads don't work, as they did not for Hillary, then you can hardly argue that money can buy elections.

But the problem is, Hillary's money was spent too late. The Koch brothers had been spending money and forming opinions for years in the run up to 2016. All that effort paid off so by the time Hillary's ads hit the air, minds were already made up.

Money buying political contests is nothing new in American history.  
A President who isn't fit for the office is nothing new.
Class warfare is nothing new.
The rich buying laws which ensure they make more money and that others pay to support their business is not new.
Businesses despoiling the environment, the land, the rivers, lakes and oceans is not new. 

Ronald Reagan cut taxes for the rich, drove deficits and the national debt through the roof and the nation survived. 

The curious thing is that so much of the right is driven by two things:  
1. Extractive industries (oil, coal) and their owners (Koch brothers among others) want to keep making money selling oil and coal--which benefits only them. But renewal energy could eventually supplant these sources of energy and other people would make the money, so the overall economy would not suffer, just the oil and coal people. We went from whale oil to drilled oil and the economy bloomed. Same can happen shifting away from oil.

2. Fear and loathing of the "other."  Kris Kobach, Joe Arpaio, David Duke, simply fear the growing numbers of dark skinned people and want to keep America white or make America White Again.  Thus, allowing 800,000 children who grew up in the USA from age 3 to stay in America is an anathema. Send them home! But they are already home. No! These dark skinned people cannot claim this country as home! But the arc of demographics is bending toward the day when whites will be a minority. In the South, that minority has been able to dominate and subjugate the colored population. But this may not be true in the future. 
So now the right says it values the rule of law. And these 800,000 have broken the law, so they have to go. But these kids didn't know they were breaking any laws. No matter: Ignorance of the law is no excuse. You must obey the law always. Even when the law says any white person who advocates that the white race is not superior to the coloreds is breaking the law. (Mississippi law in 1960.)

So these two interests see themselves as fighting for their lives, for their fortunes.

Do people on the left have any such abiding, deeply held reasons to fight back?

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