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EJ Dionne has written a very nice column about Fighting Big Money With Big Money.

We have become complacent that the fight for our society has become a battle by big donors.  The rest of us are simply pawns to be manipulated by the Oligarchs.  I'm glad that we at least have some rich people who support some of the same causes many of the rest of us support, but we ALL have a right to decide what issues are important and which politicians will support those issues.

The SCOTUS should never be forgiven for the democracy busting Citizens United.

... imagine that you also believe the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision was a disaster for representative government because a narrow majority broke with long precedent and tore down the barriers to corporate money in politics. The decision also encouraged the super-rich to drop any inhibitions about using their wealth to push their own political agendas.


The Supreme Court has stuck us with an unsavory choice. If the only moneyed people giving to politics are pushing for policies that favor the wealthy, we really will become an oligarchy. For now, their pile of dough needs to be answered by progressive rich people who think oligarchy is a bad idea.

But playing the game as it’s now set up should not blind anyone to how flawed its rules are. Politics should not be reduced to a contest between liberal rich people and conservative rich people. A donor derby tilts politics away from the interests and concerns of the vast majority of Americans who aren’t wealthy and can’t write checks of a size that gets their phone calls returned automatically. A Citizens United world makes government less responsive, less representative and more open to corruption.


Two who haven’t are Reps. David Price (D-N.C.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), sponsors of the Empowering Citizens Act. It would provide a 5 to 1 match from public funds for contributions of $250 or less, thus establishing strong incentives for politicians to rely on smaller donors while offering the rest of us a fighting chance against the billionaires. Harnessed to new technologies, this approach could vastly expand the number of citizens who are regular contributors. Similar reforms are being proposed at the state level in New York, and Obama’s organization says it will push to get them passed.

Until Citizens United is overturned, as it should be, the best way out of our dilemma is to democratize the money game.


We need a new Supreme Court to overturn the radicalism of these abusive conservative courts.
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Comment Preferences

  •  Are any of the conservative justices (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pollwatcher, wader, SilentBrook, Nattiq

    ready to retire?  I hope so, because that's the key.

    being mindful and keepin' it real

    by Raggedy Ann on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 06:09:48 AM PDT

  •  A myopic column (10+ / 0-)

    Yes, Citizen's United is a disaster, but it's a disaster because it shovels more money into an already comprehensively corrupted political system.  

    The oligarchy operates precisely because politicians are up for sale, and nobody in the Beltway perceives that as wrong.  The revolving door that politicians and powerful staffers use to get their big payoffs after government "service" is an even bigger corrupting influence.  And the media treats all this as "business as usual," because the media are owned by the same oligarchic class that buys the politicians.

    Taking one small piece of this corrupt panorama out of that context is ultimately misleading.  It's like admiring one tree, while missing the forest around it.

    Citizens United defeated by citizens, united.

    by Dallasdoc on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 06:17:27 AM PDT

    •  I think you underestimate the CU (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jim R, SilentBrook

      It takes money to run for office, and where you raise that money makes all the difference in the world.  Overturning CU and the earlier decision that money is free speech, and the entire landscape changes.  Politicians will no longer be beholding to the Oligarchs, but rather to the contributors that more fairly represent the constituents.

      The Republicans have dug a deep hole for democracy, and it will take a lot of work to get out.

      •  CU had almost no impact whatsoever in 2012 in (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MPociask, maryabein, Nattiq


        The various teabilly "CU coalition" groups combined outspent Obama by and other Democratic campaigns (including their "CU coalitions") by huge margins (huge: millions and millions of dollars huge).

        What was the result? The result was an entirely predictable one:

        1. Congressional races were decided almost uniformly by two factors: a) the shape of the districts drawn by state legislatures and b) incumbency

        2. The presidential contest, between a competent conservative with some ability to demonstrate empathy on social issues and a shiftless, flip-flopping, elitist, insincere, born-with-a-silver-spoon-up-his-ass robot, never-really-led-in-the-polls jerk was decided as such

        What EJ Dionne is supporting is entirely and transparently a means to boost Democratic candidates from within "the system". It fails to recognize the inherent contradictions of such a tactic, for starters. Almost equally relevant is that a 5:1 amplification of "small donor" donations is laughable with respect to addressing the disparities that exist in funding.

        •  Sorry, Oligarchs wouldn't contribute if it didn't (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          work.  There were lots of races that were decided by less than 2% in the house and state legislatures.  Those Oligarch PACS made a big difference.  Money buys messaging, and the Repugs wouldn't have a chance without the huge amount of lies that the Oligarchs paid for.

          •  Have you examined the historical data and (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            compared it to that of 2012?

            It seems to me you're drawing a conclusion without presenting evidence to support it. You're simply asserting that CU had a huge impact when the actual results were entirely predictable by ignoring finance mechanisms entirely.

            When you write "Oligarchs wouldn't contribute if it didn't work" you're leaving off a lot of context. Of course it works--for them. They aren't contributing to buy Their Guy. They're contributing to buy influence regardless of The Guy Who Wins. And it works because they have bought and paid for this system. Trying to work within the system as it is structured is simply not going to work (if one's aim is to affect change).

        •  But CU corrupted the Dem Party in 2012 (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JustinBinFL, maryabein, Dallasdoc

          Dems raised just as much money from corporate donors as the GOP. As a consequence, our own party's governing structure (DNC, DCCC, DSCC, OFA) is now owned and controlled by corporate donors.  

          For example,Rep. Jim Himes, a former Goldman Sachs employee, is the national finance chair of DCCC.  

          OFA, which now controls the DNC, DCCC and DSCC, is be 100% funded and controlled by corporate donors.  

          Corporate control of the Democratic Party is now fully integrated into the national Dem Party DNA. Those corporate donors who now control our party from within will be more than willing to leverage public funds to supplement their own money to control the Dem national public policy agenda.

          Unless we can clean the corporate muck out of our own party leadership, those public and small donor funds will just be used against us.  Unwinding this mess will require more than infusing public and small donor funds into the system, it will require a major shakeup of the entire Dem Party infrastructure at the national level.

          It is an old strategy of tyrants to delude their victims into fighting their battles for them. FDR

          by Betty Pinson on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 08:22:32 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Buckley V Valeo was pushback on post (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RFK Lives, maryabein, SilentBrook

        Watergate reforms by a conservative Rehnquist court, and our democracy has been paying the price ever since.

        I would like to believe all the onerous legislation signed by Democrats in the last forty years (I'm looking at you, Bill), would have had a different outcome without that landmark ruling on behalf of the 1%.

        Welfare Reform, repeal of Glass-Stegall, "Credit Modernization", 1996 Telecommunications; the whole triangulating strategy and Obama's compromises the last four years have as much to do with assuring the flow of cash to survive will not be adversely influenced as anything else.

        Until this is resolved no issue, no matter the import, will be decided on the merits or needs of the American people if it interferes with the wants of our oligarchy that finances it all.  

        "extravagant advantage for the few, ultimately depresses the many." FDR

        by Jim R on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 07:19:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Much could be done to ameliorate Citizens United (6+ / 0-)

      effects.  The bill cited above is one.  A SEC Rule requiring corporate disclosure of political spending is another.  Stricter enforcement of the Internal Revenue Code prohibition against deductibility of corporate campaign expenditures is a third.

      The fact that it has been 3 years since Citizens United was issued, yet none of these steps (or any other meaningful steps) have been taken speaks volumes.  

      Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?

      by RFK Lives on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 06:49:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Change will have to come from outside government (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RFK Lives, maryabein, Dallasdoc

        It will be difficult and very expensive, fighting the status quo in both parties every inch of the way.

        That said, after preventing cuts to SS & Medicare, its my next big cause. The sooner we start, the better.

        It is an old strategy of tyrants to delude their victims into fighting their battles for them. FDR

        by Betty Pinson on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 07:48:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Part of the greater reality is somewhat better... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RFK Lives, MPociask, Dallasdoc

      ...explained in this piece from roughly 3 months ago (if I say so, myself): "'Revealed: Why the Pundits Are Wrong About Big Money and the 2012 Elections,' Thomas Ferguson, et al."

      "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

      by bobswern on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 06:53:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  We need real lobbying reform as well (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dallasdoc, SilentBrook

      coupled with a closing of the golden revolving door between Congressional staffers and lobbying/PR firms.

      More than ever, corporate controlled staffers are running the show in DC as legislators spend all their time raising money instead of governing.

      It is an old strategy of tyrants to delude their victims into fighting their battles for them. FDR

      by Betty Pinson on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 07:57:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Adam Smith speaks against Citizens United (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pollwatcher, SilentBrook

    The supposed (not) godfather of free-market ideology says this, and you may quote him:

    The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order (stockholders, i,e, the 1%), ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it.
    (my emphasis)  Adam Smith Wealth of Nations
    Money does not equal speech, money equals corruption.  So says Adam Smith.

    Is very bad to steal jobu's very bad

    by jobu on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 06:42:56 AM PDT

  •  Feb 2012 Glenn Greenwald both parties same (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greenbell, MPociask, Nattiq

    Glenn was in Columbus OH with a tour. A libertereian, a conservative and he was the liberal talked about civil liberties.

    The conservative pointed out that separation of powers was more important for freedom than the bill of rights.

    Well, we have seen the convergence of the three branches to support corporations, war, finance and a two tier justice system so that they can keep out of jail. In other words, the justice system has collapsed along with journalism, education, etc.

    Glenn made the point that the major parties are the same on the basic issues.

    Now this is out in the open with SS and so many other issues.

    When will it become permissible to talk about a third party here on DK?

    •  Nope! A very False Equivelency (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      If both parties were the same, there would be no Social Security, Medicare, Environmental protection, science research...

      The Dems have problems with about 25% of their politicians, but the majority are trying to do the right thing, under very corrupt rules.  Don't confuse political reality with philosophical equivalence.

      •  Just wait a little while (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        That's the direction we're heading, it won't happen overnight.  But right now, there's very little daylight between the two parties' leadership on the most pressing issues of the day.

        It is an old strategy of tyrants to delude their victims into fighting their battles for them. FDR

        by Betty Pinson on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 07:45:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  You write as though the social safety net is the (0+ / 0-)

        be-all and end-all of liberalism/progressivism.  Corporatism, which is the core problem of the Democratic party, is hardly inconsistent with support of the social safety net.  In fact, such a combination is almost the definition of the modern centrist or center-right party: As PBO has said, his policies are basically those of the now extinct liberal Republicans.  As for your estimation of 25%, when that problematic proportion includes the President, the Majority Leader of the Senate, and the Minority Leader of the House, you're in trouble.

        "If you don't read the newspapers, you're uninformed. If you do read the newspapers, you're misinformed." -- M. Twain

        by Oliver St John Gogarty on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 07:55:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Wow! So glad he's speaking out (0+ / 0-)

    For a while seemed the Village was attempting to sweep the whole Citizen's United debacle under the rug.  

    Corporate donors quickly swept into the void created by CU and bought up all the public policy real estate from both parties.  

    Dem leadership has become very comfortable with their new bosses, you never hear them mention CU anymore.  It's a plush, comfy prison they work in now.

    It is an old strategy of tyrants to delude their victims into fighting their battles for them. FDR

    by Betty Pinson on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 07:43:27 AM PDT

  •  Reforming CU seems about as popular here (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    as preventing Chained CPI for SS - about as popular as the proverbial prostitute in church.

    Wonder why?

    It is an old strategy of tyrants to delude their victims into fighting their battles for them. FDR

    by Betty Pinson on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 08:27:01 AM PDT

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