America for sale


He thinks the Clintons had political opponents murdered. He thinks we should have seized all the oil in Iraq. He believes the nuclear fallout from the bombing of Japan made the Japanese healthier. Civil rights was a terrible mistake, and black people were better off in the 1950s. He’s a climate change denialist. He “believes that human beings have no inherent value other than how much money they make”. This profile of hedge-fund manager and political king-maker Bob Mercer is horrifying for its details about the man — Mercer truly is a Randian incompetent and obnoxious ignoramus with way too much money — but the paragraphs I found most chilling were not about Mercer, but about the way American politics was corrupted by a single Supreme Court decision.

Although Mercer has recently become an object of media speculation, Trevor Potter, the president of the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan watchdog group, who formerly served as the chairman of the Federal Election Commission, said, “I have no idea what his political views are—they’re unknown, not just to the public but also to most people who’ve been active in politics for the past thirty years.” Potter, a Republican, sees Mercer as emblematic of a major shift in American politics that has occurred since 2010, when the Supreme Court made a controversial ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. That ruling, and several subsequent ones, removed virtually all limits on how much money corporations and nonprofit groups can spend on federal elections, and how much individuals can give to political-action committees. Since then, power has tilted away from the two main political parties and toward a tiny group of rich mega-donors.

Private money has long played a big role in American elections. When there were limits on how much a single donor could give, however, it was much harder for an individual to have a decisive impact. Now, Potter said, “a single billionaire can write an eight-figure check and put not just their thumb but their whole hand on the scale—and we often have no idea who they are.” He continued, “Suddenly, a random billionaire can change politics and public policy—to sweep everything else off the table—even if they don’t speak publicly, and even if there’s almost no public awareness of his or her views.”

We are so fucked.

Comments

  1. Usernames! (╯°□°)╯︵ ʎuʎbosıɯ says

    Pretty much. Just wait until the ReTHUGs can capture the last few remaining state legislatures required to hold a constitutional convention! Then we will see the end as they pass amendments making corporations untouchable, federal laws ineffective and sweep away any power left to poors (i.e., the 99.9%ers).

    We the people have enough power to stop this, but we are so unorganized and enough of us are duped so as to be ineffective.

    I know a whole lot of pain and suffering will need to occur before we can be bothered to rise up. It has happened in the past and there is nothing to stop it from happening again.

  2. birgerjohansson says

    The auctioning off of an empire reminds me of the final minutes of this film:

    “The Fall of the Roman Empire” (1964) with Sophia Loren, Stephen Boyd, Alec Guinness, Christopher Plummer as Commodus (hey, this film fits the time frame to influence The Donald about his leadership style!)

  3. weylguy says

    The Christian belief system has taken over politics. Don’t expect reason and rationality from our leaders because they’re just mimicking the Amerikaner mindset. Yes, we’re truly fucked.

  4. zoniedude says

    You are too parochial. Citizens United opened the electoral process in the United States to oligarchs around the world. The Russian oligarchs in the news are the current example but there exists an entire cadre of billionaires who believe national governments are obsolete and should be suppressed or undermined. Trump’s efforts seem puzzling to everyone who doesn’t understand that destroying the U.S. government has been a goal for the Republicans for a long time. Remember the old Republican phrase “reduce government to the point where we can drown it in the bathtub”?

  5. lotharloo says

    Potter, a Republican, sees Mercer as emblematic of a major shift in American politics that has occurred since 2010, when the Supreme Court made a controversial ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. That ruling, and several subsequent ones, removed virtually all limits on how much money corporations and nonprofit groups can spend on federal elections, and how much individuals can give to political-action committees. Since then, power has tilted away from the two main political parties and toward a tiny group of rich mega-donors.

    Yet Democrats have really done nothing to combat that. In fact, the Democratic candidate was happily gobbling donor money to her super PAC and also to her personal campaign through various loopholes despite being a maximum allowed contribution. In fact if I remember correctly, the Democratic party was happy to collaborate as well. As I see it, people seem to have a problem only when the other side does it.

    Pretty much. Just wait until the ReTHUGs can capture the last few remaining state legislatures required to hold a constitutional convention.

    Again, it is not just Republicans. A lot of the donors only care about their profits and not much about anything else. For them the perfect situation is to have a corporate-friendly anti-choice anit-LGBT racist Republican party and a corporate-friendly pro-choice pro-LGBT and anti-racist Democratic party. Then, you’ll just dial the identity and social politics to eleven, watch how Christian fundies vote Republicans (because abortion is MURDER!!) and now democrats vote Democratic because the other side is an ABOMINATION and in the meantime, the donors get their donations back with massive interest.

  6. F.O. says

    @lotharloo #9: while what you say is partly true, it’s not the whole story.
    Democrats could and should have played harder the identity politics card.
    Both Sanders and Clinton failed to give solid hopes to BLM, and democrats in general seem to have failed to fight for POC’s right to vote. They lost plenty of votes there.
    Both identity politics and stop serving the super rich are necessary, they are two faces of the same coin: push the balance of power towards the powerless and away from the powerful.

  7. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Ah, the old “purity” argument, where every candidate must be free of any perceived taint. Ain’t gonna happen, as 1) people are complex and not totally consistent, and 2) the need for massive amounts of money to run political campaigns at all levels. One lesson many folks haven’t learned from the Obama era, is the need for progressives not only in the White House, but also on Capitol Hill, and in statehouses and state legislatures country-wide. I’m not seeing much grass-level working going on from others at this blog.
    There’s an old saying in my old business. You can be fast, accurate, or cheap. Pick the two options you want. Overly concentrating on “money purity” could lead to democrats being the minority party for the near future, and maybe into the far future.

  8. unclefrogy says

    while I would agree that we are truly fucked the total skimpy use of lube may eventually back fire of the fuckers. The thing about ignorant poor fuckees is that they may eventually figure out they got nothing to loose. it has happened before.
    uncle frogy

  9. ebotebo says

    We’re not only fucked, were being raped by a veritable tiny number of people, with the govt. sitting on their hands. It almost appears that chaos may ensue.

  10. says

    Trust me, you’re not being fucking raped, asshole. Rape is a violent crime. Your government are fascist shitbags, and your President is a serial sexual predator, but even he can’t rape a country. Choose a better fucking analogy next time, so i and other actual rape victims don’t have to be triggered for your forlorn hope to be edgy.

    Selfish asswipe.

  11. DanDare says

    Don’t forget that some individuals can fund their own campaigns and donations can be buried under a million pretenses.
    Also there can be independant lobbying via ads etc to support a wealthy person’s candidate.

  12. DanDare says

    It wasn’t an analogy. It was a metaphor and an appropriate one. The wealthy are taking pleasure from controlling force used against an unwilling populace and making them feel ashamed and brutalised and guilty. Rape is an excellent metaphor for that. Just as you could say they are murdering democracy.

  13. KG says

    2010, when the Supreme Court made a controversial ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

    That could be seen as the day the USA became officially and legally an oligarchy.

  14. jefrir says

    It was a metaphor and an appropriate one.

    You have just been told it harmed someone, and in an entirely predictable way. Deciding to ramble on about lube was especially unnecessary, and it is entirely possible to make cogent, forceful political points without being shitbags to rape victims.
    Get better metaphors.

  15. pedz says

    Has everybody read Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right (2017)
    by Jane Mayer (same lady as wrote the article linked? PZ, you especially need to read it if you haven’t already.

  16. David Marjanović says

    The auctioning off of an empire reminds me of the final minutes of this film:

    Heh, that’s the only part of the film that touches on historical reality :-)

  17. mostlymarvelous says

    lotharloo

    In fact if I remember correctly, the Democratic party was happy to collaborate as well. As I see it, people seem to have a problem only when the other side does it.

    Not quite. The Dems played the game according to the rules but they didn’t have to like them.

    Clinton’s first and biggest commitment was to get rid of Citizens United. She intended to get a constitutional amendment proposal out within the first 30 days in office. She also had opposition to Citizens United as one of her top criteria for selecting nominees for the Supreme Court as well as proposing an Executive Order forcing outside groups to disclose election spending. https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/campaign-finance-reform/

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