Dark Money Tribes Displacing Political Parties

Citizens United has given rise to cabals of secret donors, supplanting the role of political parties in 2014.

I'm pleased to announce that there is at least one liberal billionaire out there ready to spend big money to advance the cause of climate change.

Actually, I'm not that pleased to announce it. Yes, I'm glad Tom Steyer is stepping up to defend a cause which shouldn't be liberal or conservative, but I'm also cognizant of the price that goes with it. As Nick Confessore says in this segment with Chris Hayes, dark money cabals are displacing political parties. At first blush that might sound like a good thing, but it's not if it means all future political agendas will be determined by fabulously wealthy people who may or may not give a damn about the rest of us.

David Firestone:

But it’s worth thinking twice before celebrating Mr. Steyer’s donation, which will make plutocracy politics even worse.

Big money pollutes politics whether it comes from the Koch brothers, with a hard-edged agenda against environmental or financial regulation, or from Mr. Steyer and his liberal friends. Either way, the donations enhance the ability of those with money to influence what the country is talking about, and how it votes.

In state after state, corporate executives and financiers are giving money to super PACs associated with Republican congressional candidates, prompting unions to contribute to Democratic super PACs. This arms race escalates every campaign cycle, producing a torrent of attack ads that make all candidates look like liars, cowards and thieves, increasing cynicism that keeps people away from the polls.

There is one difference, though. Steyer is forthright about his effort to change the debate, rather than hiding behind secret corporations and non-profit organizations. For that, I congratulate him, but in the overall big picture, it's an escalation that threatens the foundations of our political system.


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