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Fighting Money With Money

John Winters: To anyone who favors the general Democratic platform, it’s time to dig deep and pump in that filthy lucre.
In this photo, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., right, accompanied by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., speak to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 2, 2014, about the Supreme Court's decision in the McCutcheon v. FEC case,  in which the Court struck down limits in federal law on the aggregate campaign contributions individual donors may make to candidates, political parties, and political action committees. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)
John Winters: To anyone who favors the general Democratic platform, it’s time to dig deep and pump in that filthy lucre. In this photo, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., right, accompanied by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., speak to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 2, 2014, about the Supreme Court's decision in the McCutcheon v. FEC case, in which the Court struck down limits in federal law on the aggregate campaign contributions individual donors may make to candidates, political parties, and political action committees. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)
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The Supreme Court has again thrown open the floodgates.

Thanks to a 5-to-4 decision, with the court’s conservative justices in the majority, the limit on an individual’s total donations to federal candidates is now abolished. The majority continues to believe that under the First Amendment the federal government should have no hand in controlling political participation. The minority argued that oversight is needed to ensure a functioning democracy.

The message? Let the good times roll.

The ruling, much like Citizens United in 2010, which struck down restrictions on campaign spending by corporations and unions, is viewed as a victory for Republicans and conservatives. It stands to reason that when we think of big money in politics the GOP comes to mind. The two go together like caviar and crème fraiche.

there are plenty of Democrats out there with money enough to give. Some already write big checks. Now, the message from the Supreme Court is: Send more.

It’s easy to understand why we feel this way. Two of the top six beneficiaries of the Citizens United — i.e. those who got the biggest chunk of the additional $933 million in 2012 election spending that ridiculous ruling sent streaming into the system — were aligned with conservative causes, according to a report by NBC News. Then, there are the Koch brothers, the poster boys for political spending. Toss in Karl Rove and his PACs, and one might say, case closed.

Also, when it comes to politics and money, it’s easy to fall back on stereotypes: Republicans are rich white guys who have the money to rig the system in their favor; and Democrats are hippies and minorities who don’t have much to give. Like most stereotypes, these don’t tell the whole story and are quite often off the mark. In fact, in 2012, Democrats out-fundraised and outspent Republicans.

Which proves that there are plenty of Democrats out there with money enough to give. Some already write big checks. Now, the message from the Supreme Court is: Send more.

That’s right, I’m looking at you Spielberg.

And anyone else who favors the general Democratic platform. It’s time to dig deep and pump in that filthy lucre.

In the past, it seems Democrats and liberals have reacted to the rollback of campaign spending limits by editorializing or speaking out about their evils (i.e. bellyaching). Or, we simply withdraw. We seem to think that by not participating in literal “retail” politics it will go away. It won’t.

So, never mind citing the Founding Fathers, quoting Orwell or camping out en masse in Zuccotti Park. Just get out the checkbook.

So, never mind citing the Founding Fathers, quoting Orwell or camping out en masse in Zuccotti Park. Just get out the checkbook. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Or, when in Rome do as the Romans do. Pick whatever cliché you want, but it’s time to join the money revolution and fight fire with fire.

To paraphrase JFK, ask not how much your country can do for you, but how much you can give to your country. Or, more precisely how much you can give to the candidates and party you most agree with.

My fellow Americans, give until it hurts. Democracy is on sale, so get it while it’s hot. After all, if we don’t buy our politicians, who will?

Exxon-Mobil, GM, the pharmaceutical industry, the NRA…


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John J. Winters Twitter Cognoscenti contributor
John J. Winters teaches at universities in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and is the author of "Sam Shepard: A Life."

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