Friday, April 4, 2014

Josh Marshall on The Brittle Grip

Josh Marshall offers his third in the series on the brittle grip the ultra-wealthy believe they have on power on Talking Points Memo.

Extremely wealthy people - enabled by a series of key Supreme Court decisions as recently as yesterday - want to be able to spend gargantuan amounts of money in the political process and remain essentially private persons who don't get knocked around or criticized like everyone else in the political arena.

This is frankly ridiculous.

The Kochs, Sheldon Adelson, to a lesser degree George Soros (since his political giving does not approach the scale of these men and has declined in recent years) are massively influential players in our political process. Under the current system of lax or non-existent restrictions on political spending, billionaire givers are at least as influential as any individual member of the House or Senate, probably a bigger deal than the chairmen of the two major political parties. In the GOP today, the role of the Kochs and Adelson and a few others is likely greatly understated by those comparisons.

The same issue has come up recently with demands from mega-givers not to have to disclose their giving on the argument that they're likely to be criticized or "vilified" or "intimidated." Again, creeping Perkinsism. So intense political participation -- intense "speech" -- without having to enter the political arena and become a political entity who like everyone else in this democracy thing can be supported and criticized.

It doesn't work that way. There's no reason why it should. Free speech is freedom to speak. Not freedom to speak and not have anyone disagree with anything you say.

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