Monday, June 25, 2012

Attention Liberal Billionaire Readers

OK, so I probably don't draw that many readers with ten figures of net worth. And that level of income tends to skew to the right, though there are notable "class traitor" exceptions.
But on the off chance that a Democratic tycoon is reading me: please write some SuperPAC checks, OK?

Reports last week show that liberal donors are lagging far behind conservatives in the free for all of campaign finance since the to say the least controversial Citizens United Supreme Court ruling. "Still largely missing are the liberal philanthropists and executives who showered $396 million in unrestricted contributions on 527s in the 2004 elections."

"This time around," writes Alec McGillis at the New Republic:
rather than simply rally their friends and colleagues around an inspiring cause, these donors are also being asked to cut massive checks. And because many of them share Obama’s disdain for the excesses of a broken campaign finance system, the exercise has prompted considerable squeamishness. One bundler who has raised more than $800,000 told me there was “an aversion to the super PACs, to the whole idea of them” in the bundler’s circle. “It’s left a really bad taste in people’s mouths.” “I think it’s awful,” says another bundler who has raised more than $600,000 for the campaign this year. “There’s too much money being spent on these elections to begin with. Why would anyone want to give $5 million to a super PAC to elect a president? It’s incomprehensible. There are a lot of other things you can give your money to.” Such as? Hospitals and investigative journalism, offered the bundler.
My team has an admirable tendency to play by the rules as they should be, not by the rules as they are. This unfortunate commitment to principle, unfortunately, is unilateral disarmament in a post-Citizens United world that defines money as free speech. (We all have free speech, but some of us are louder.) And the Supremes doubled down on that thinking in Monday's ruling on Montana campaign finance limits, a ruling that should ripple into Iowa soon.

UPDATE: As if on cue, Warren Buffett: "I will not be doing super PACs of any sort. I think allowing unlimited contributions to campaigns is a terrible idea and an important and unfortunate step toward a plutocracy.”

The other side has no such qualms about letting principle get in the way of fundraising. Indeed, it's one of the few areas where Mitt Romney is willing to wear his faith on his sleeve. Politically incorrect to note that Mormons are giving to Romney? People give to people like themselves, especially when that person is a barrier breaker. I remember stories about Michael Dukakis setting fundraising records with the Greek-American community. (Tangent: why is it that the evangelical champions of the last two cycles, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, consistently lagged in fundraising even when they were winning at the polls?)

Democrats have advantages in ground game and in small dollar donors, true. And if you took a poll on campaign finance reform, you'd see an overwhelming majority for tighter restrictions. But the issue is at this point an insider issue, not a vote changing issue. And Average Voter would likely define "reform" as "get rid of the damn commercials," which would be an actual constitutional problem, not a made up one like Citizens United.

So for now, the game has to be played by the rules in place, bad as they are. Billionaire readers, are you persuaded yet? You can write your checks payable to my new Super PAC, the Joint Organization Helping National Democrats Emerge Elected Totally Honestly. That's a lot to write on the Pay To The Order Of line, so be sure to use our acronym and mail it to this address. Yes, of course I know Colbert did it firster and funnier, but I'm counting on my much smaller audience to deliver proportionate results. I thank you and the President thanks you.

1 comment:

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