How Europe is seeing the current and the next 2020 will shape up.

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Dan Stubbs, Sep 25, 2018.

  1. Dan Stubbs
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    Dan Stubbs FORGET ---- HELL Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    This how they are looking at the Election cycle. Now and in the Future.


    In one corner, backing the Republican, are billionaire heavyweights like Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers. In the other, wearing the blue trunks, are mega-donors such as Tom Steyer and George Soros, as well as one of the richest Americans of all, Michael Bloomberg, who recently confirmed that he’ll spend at least $80m to flip the House of Representatives to the Democrats – in a midterm election that will likely be the most expensive in history.

    The rest of us, ordinary citizens without big bank accounts, will certainly play a role in the outcome this November. We cast the votes, after all. But more and more, US politics – along with civic life broadly – often feels like a spectator sport, as a growing array of billionaire super citizens battle it out in the public square.

    The outsized clout of the rich is hardly a new story, of course. But this influence game is changing as the dollar signs get bigger and as the wealthy exert influence in more arenas using a more sophisticated array of strategies. The day before news broke about Bloomberg’s vast election giving, for example, the Times reported on the successful efforts of a Koch-backed 501(c)(4) group to kill public transportation initiatives across the country.

    That same week, the Walton Family Foundation – which has already helped bankroll a quarter of all US charter schools – announced another $100m in education grants. Around the same time, the billionaire activist Tom Steyer launched a new ad attacking Donald Trump that featured audio of children crying in immigrant detention centers. The ad is part of Steyer’s unprecedented campaign pushing for Trump’s impeachment; he’s spent millions of dollars on the effort, on top of some $200m he’s made in political contributions since 2014.

    Depending on your politics, you may either cheer or fear the influence spending of specific top donors. In truth, we should be troubled about all such spending. Thanks to several factors, economic inequality seems to be translating into civic disparities at a faster pace and in ways that touch more parts of US society.

    With ever deeper pockets, the rich can more easily afford to pull multiple levers of influence and many are doing exactly that

    First, the rich have gotten much richer in the last 10 or 15 years. In 2005, the Koch brothers had a combined net worth of around $9bn; now they’re worth over $100bn. Mike Bloomberg has added $46bn to his fortune during this same period, while Jeff Bezos – who has been flexing his civic muscle as owner of the Washington Post and is said to be planning a big move into philanthropy – is worth 30 times more today than he was in 2005, a stunning $144bn.

    With ever deeper pockets, the rich can more easily afford to pull multiple levers of influence and many are doing exactly that, which is a second thing that’s changed about the elite power game. Increasingly, top donors are simultaneously putting money into elections, private foundations that press an ideological agenda, 501(c)(4) groups and media.

    Robert Mercer is one example of an ambidextrous funder. The family foundation that he runs with his daughter Rebekah makes millions of dollars in grants to conservative policy groups every year, but Mercer was also among the top GOP campaign donors in 2016 and is also a top investor in Breitbart, the pro-Trump media site. The Mercers have been among the most powerful figures in politics in the past few years – influence that’s only been possible because of Robert Mercer’s success in the wildly lucrative hedge fund world. Being a star school teacher or nurse doesn’t yield the same resources or clout.

    Bloomberg is another example of multi-faceted donor, on a much larger scale. In addition to investing hundreds of millions of dollars in his own political career, securing three terms as New York’s mayor, he’s used both charitable and political giving to push his agenda on such issues as climate change, guns and education. Now he’s poised to become the biggest donor ever during a midterm election cycle. This enormous influence spending has amounted to just a tiny fraction of his net worth.

    Bloomberg’s support for Democrats and causes like climate change underscores a third change in big money battles over America’s future: the surge of new money from left-of-center donors.

    This shift dates back to George W Bush’s presidency, when alarmed wealthy Democrats set out to reverse conservative gains. Mixing philanthropic gifts with political donations and 501(c)(4) spending, they bankrolled the creation of Democracy Alliance, the Center for American Progress, and other institutions. Since then, other billionaires have swung behind progressive causes, including tech winners like Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz – who gave $27m to help defeat Trump in the 2016 election – and Steyer, who became an active mega-giver after he retired from his hedge fund six years ago.

    The new money flowing from wealthy left-of-center donors, especially in response to Trump’s rise, may look like a sign that American pluralism is alive and well in this second Gilded Age. Yes, public life in increasingly drenched in cash, but aren’t many viewpoints getting heard as a more ideologically diverse upper class supports various causes and candidates?

    Sometimes this is the case. On climate change, for example, progressive donors have helped counter the longstading might of the fossil fuel industry. Economic issues have been another story, though. Polls show that the wealthy are more conservative on such issues, which explains why very little money even from left-of-center donors goes to support work that strongly challenges inequality. Bloomberg’s big give for Democrats this year is a case in point: he’s made it clear that he wants to support moderate candidates, not populists from the Bernie Sanders wing of the party.

    The Democratic party and progressive infrastructure is heavily dependent on patrons who’ve thrived under America’s current form of capitalism and aren’t interested in major reforms to that system, however much it fails ordinary workers. In 2016, Trump filled this vacuum with his own brand of economic populism.

    There’s also been a lack of pluralism among wealthy donors in other areas. The Kochs are having such a big impact on transportation policy because there are few counter-weights to their money in that niche. Top donors can be especially influential in certain states and localities, where there’s not a diverse pool of givers. For example, the billionaire Eli Broad has long wielded outsized influence in Los Angeles, especially on education.

    There’s no easy way to counter the rising power of these super citizens. Campaign finance reform would help, but influence spending now extends far beyond elections, as philanthropy has been weaponized for policy combat.

    Ultimately, the best solution to the new civic inequality lies in stronger social movements that convert Americans from spectators to activists. And one of the most reassuring trends of recent years is we’ve seen a lot of such people power, including the Tea Party, Occupy, Black Lives Matter and #MeToo.

    Now we need more of the same, extending to more issues and more places – especially the core challenge of economic inequality. Otherwise, it’s hard to see how the United States can escape from a new era of plutocracy.

    • David Callahan is the Author of the Artitical
     
  2. frigidweirdo
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    frigidweirdo Platinum Member

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    Democracy? No, we don't want Democracy, or so they tell us.
     
  3. Lastman
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    Lastman Member

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    What a magnificently wide perspective.
     
  4. DOTR
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    DOTR Gold Member

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    Who wrote this? The Kochs hate President Trump.
     
  5. Mindful
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    Mindful Platinum Member

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    The Euros hate Trump.

    But they don't know why.
     
  6. Ecocertifmrl
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    Ecocertifmrl Senior Member

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    They know.
     
  7. Mindful
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    Mindful Platinum Member

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    Oh, you again. All knowing. (Not)

    :1peleas:
     
  8. Ecocertifmrl
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    Ecocertifmrl Senior Member

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    I know I'm not paid as much as you.
     
  9. Mindful
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    Mindful Platinum Member

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    Take it downstairs, if you want the rough stuff. :desk:
     
  10. Windparadox
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    Windparadox Gold Member

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    `
    My oldest daughters friend from Germany dropped by here a few days ago. He wants to emigrate to the US. He detests Angela Merkel for allowing all those islamics in his country who have ruined it. However, he will not support Merkel's opposing party which is Neo-Nazi. I told him it's no better here in the US where your choices are between two steaming bowls of diarrhea. But he's applied for citizenship anyways.
     

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