Billionaire conservative casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who helped keep Newt Gingrich’s failed presidential campaign alive during the Republican primaries, is giving $10 million to the super PAC supporting the presumptive GOP nominee, Mitt Romney, according to people with knowledge of the matter.Karl Rove is expecting to raise at least $300 million, and expect hundreds of millions more to flow to Romney's Super PAC and other allied groups. They have already outspent us 4-1 through June. Did Justice Kennedy really think this wouldn't happen when he wrote that corporate spending in elections "do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption"? Our democracy is now for sale to the highest bidder. If that's not corruption, then what is?
Not that money is everything, as we saw last night in the special election in Arizona's 8th congressional district, or as we've seen in the Ohio Senate race where Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown has weathered millions in negative advertising surprisingly well. (And since I wrote that post, the Super PAC tally is now $10 million, and Brown is still holding strong.)
But money has incredible power in our politics, and without the help of our own gazillionaires, the GOP machine will have the ability to put their finger on the scale—from the presidential race all the way down to school boards.
Meanwhile, our billionaires aren't stepping forward to counter this flood of outside money. But what if our billionaires could help shut down that conservative money spigot? Here's how:
Announce that liberal billionaires will match conservative Super PAC spending on a 1:1 ratio.
Hear me out.
The Sheldon Adelsons of the GOP are dumping in tens of millions because they want to drown out progressives from the airwaves. And as long as races like Wisconsin show that our side isn't playing fire with fire, they're emboldened to maintain or even increase their high level of engagement (in other words, write bigger and bigger checks to Karl Rove).
But if suddenly their dollars are cancelled out by ours, the impact of their expenditures is lessened and their motivation to keep spending big is eroded. Why spend money trying to buy an election when your money isn't providing your team with a competitive advantage?
So that's my theory. The counterargument is that we'd have an arms race, like the old U.S.-U.S.S.R. nuclear arms buildup. But I figure that when it comes to writing personal checks, those billionaires would opt for writing fewer of them. They didn't get rich by throwing money away needlessly.
Of course it's easy for me to gamble with someone else's money. But the alternative is too depressing to consider. Our money people need to pony up, so why not do so in a way that could potentially demotivate the other side?