What Citizens United hath wrought:
The media, the pundits and the Republicans themselves say they expect a billion dollars to be spent to elect Mitt Romney president. Think of it: a billion dollars and what sane people could do with that amount of excess dough.
Although the limit on individual contributions to candidates remains $2500, the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision allows unlimited amounts of money to flow to organizations that openly campaign for candidates.
“‘I have lots of money, and can give it legally now,’ Texas billionaire and top GOP moneyman Harold Simmons recently bragged to The Wall Street Journal. ‘Just never to Democrats.'”
That quotation is from a current story in Rolling Stone magazine by Tim Dickinson listing names and details of 16 right wing billionaires who have each given at least $1 million to organizations that want to elect Romney.
Dickinson has done some extraordinary work pulling together information about these 16 men, each one intending to spend more money than most individuals earn in a lifetime to buy influence with the White House. And if the purchase goes through, they expect to be rewarded, says Dickinson, in some specific ways.
One of them wants permission to bury radioactive waste from 36 states in Texas. Another wants to limit jury awards against home builders who do shoddy work. The Marriott brothers want two things: control of immigration reform to ensure a supply of legal workers for their hotels along with continued government subsidies for luxury travel for executives.
Oh, and get this one – Julian Robertson, Jr., writes Dickinson, wants to further lower taxes on rich people:
”Robertson has embraced tax avoidance as a lifestyle: in 2000, despite living and working in Manhattan, he logged 182 days outside the city – often racing to flee town by midnight – to avoid paing local income tax.
“Also admits to seeking direct access to the president: ‘I would expect Mitt Romney to speak to me occasionally,’ he has said.”
And so on. Who are these people? Well, they are a bunch of rich, old, white guys. In total, 69 percent (11 of them) are older than 60 including three octogenarians which doesn’t speak well for old people in general.
There are no women, no blacks, no Asians, no Hispanics. And they believe their wealth entitles them to own the executive branch of government.
Who knows how much they are contributing to Senate and House races, but they expect to buy Congress too and these are only 16 billionaires – there are a whole lot more who generally roll in the same political direction.
In the context of this obscene amount of money, I know it sounds quaint but whatever happened to “one man, one vote”?
We the people are now stuck in a classic catch-22: even if there are any political candidates more concerned with the good of the country and its people than amassing their own wealth, they cannot compete effectively in an election without selling their souls to billionaires.
Of course, there is nothing to do but keep trying to push back against the money tsunami. In my own small way, I will do that but I have little hope and no useful ideas for removing the billionaire effect from American politics.
Can you tell I’ve been in a bad mood all weekend? Anyway, you should go read Tim Dickinson’s list just to know some details of the people who believe their wealth entitles them to own the government and, thereby, the American people.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Nancy Leitz: Hold the Mayo