Who's buying our democracy? Wall Street financiers, the Koch brothers, and casino magnates Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn.
And they're doing much of it in secret.
It's a perfect storm:
The greatest concentration of wealth in more than a century --
courtesy "trickle-down" economics, Reagan and Bush tax cuts, and the
demise of organized labor.
Unlimited political contributions -- courtesy of Republican-appointed
Justices Roberts, Scalia, Alito, Thomas, and Kennedy, in one of the
dumbest decisions in Supreme Court history, "Citizens United vs. Federal
Election Commission," along with lower-court rulings that have expanded
Complete secrecy about who's contributing how much to whom -- courtesy
of a loophole in the tax laws that allows so-called non-profit "social
welfare" organizations to accept the unlimited contributions for
hard-hitting political ads.
Put them all together and our democracy is being sold down the drain.
With a more equitable and traditional distribution of wealth, far
more Americans would have a fair chance of influencing politics. As the
great jurist Louis Brandeis once said, "we can have a democracy or we
can have great wealth in the hands of a comparative few, but we cannot
Alternatively, inequality wouldn't be as much of a problem if we had
strict laws limiting political spending or, at the very least,
disclosing who was contributing what.
But we have an almost unprecedented concentration of wealth and unlimited political spending and secrecy.
I'm not letting Democrats off the hook. Democratic candidates are
still too dependent on Wall Street casino moguls and real casino
magnates (Steve Wynn has been a major contributor to Harry Reid, for
example). George Soros and a few others have poured big bucks into
Democratic coffers. So have a handful of trade unions.
But make no mistake. Compared to what the GOP is doing this year,
Democrats are conducting a high-school bake sale. The mega-selling of
American democracy is a Republican invention, and Romney and the GOP are
its major beneficiaries.
And the losers aren't just Democrats. They're the American people.