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I am painfully aware that the Presidency of Barack Obama is not all that I would like it to be. Talk to Democratic Party regulars about it and you’ll sometimes see a sort of pained shrug that conveys the message “What else can he do? He has to give in to the rich people sometimes to keep them from going crazy on him.”
For those people who don’t think that Obama has had to step lightly in some areas to prevent the wealthy from just buying the election for his opponent, I have an article for you to read. It turns out that, as conciliatory as Obama has tried to be, it hasn’t been enough for the wealthy. They’re set on flat-out buying the election for his opponent — without shame. In fact, they do it with pride.
“Obama yesterday came out with a modest proposal to try to roll back some of the income equality in the nation: let everyone keep the Bush tax cuts on the first $250,000 on their annual income and then restore Clinton-era tax rates on any income over $250,000. This is a modest proposal. It recognizes that, what do you know!, larding the wealthiest citizens with as much money as we can (as we’ve done) does not actually lead to job creation after all — it just leads to the wealthiest citizens having gobs and gobs of extra money to give to the campaigns of candidates who want to make wealth inequality worse — and then worse and worse and worse still.
“This has been the nightmare prospect for Democrats — for reformers in general, in fact: that at some point the rich would just say ‘we don’t care what anyone else thinks, we are just out and out buying the Presidency and daring you to do something about it — which you can’t do because we’re the ones who have all of the money.’
“Trying to prevent this shameless hostile takeover of the country’s government — combined with cutting off voter eligibility through ID requirements and the like — is why Obama and the Dems are often so damned conciliatory. They understand the 1% vs. 99% thing very well. They sometimes tread lightly.
“But they haven’t treaded lightly enough this time. It hasn’t worked. Obama has awakened the beast.
“There seems to be a cultural shift under way, the same one that’s driving money to conservative super PACs while Democratic operatives scrounge for scraps. Dems have traditionally relied on more small-dollar donations; without looking at the FEC filings, I’m guessing that Romney’s lead is mostly fueled by large gifts, although his campaign says $22.3 million of June’s total came in donations of $250 or less, a larger percentage than during primary months, albeit still trailing Obama’s numbers in recent filings. Some of the people who give these large gifts are the same ones funding Republican super PACs.
“This isn’t the Citizens United scenario campaign finance reform advocates warned about, where secretive donors funnel their money to outside groups through shell corporations. Republican donors are prouder than ever of their wealth and its political utility to Republican groups, official and unoffical. Anecdotes from Romney’s weekend fundraising junket in the Hamptons suggest that they can’t wait to tell people about it.”
“Democratic donors just don’t feel the same way. Liberal hand-wringing over the effects of money on politics after the Citizens United decision seems to have made them more hesitant to give. It makes them feel icky.”
“The President still has plenty of wealthy donors, especially among the Hollywood glamour and Silicon Valley nerd chic sets. And there are other factors to the overall fundraising numbers: The Obama campaign worries about complacency, as evidenced by their frequent reminders in fundraising emails that the campaign finance cards are stacked against them, and the official fundraising tally may list back in Obama’s direction after election really heats up. Despite Kerry’s fundraising surge in the spring of 2004, Bush outspent him by $40 million in the end. But Romney’s super PAC money and the culture of political giving on the right has changed the balance of power in an incumbent election. $106 million in June is just a small taste of what’s to come.”
Read the whole thing for some juicy examples of how the wealthy view this election. (“Tell them who’s on your yacht this weekend! Tell him!”) Have a paper bag ready in case you vomit part-way through and some breath mints available for when you’re done.
For my friends in the Occupy movement, this is why I think that you should not be on the fence this time around. This is not normal politics anymore; the scope of this revolt by the rich is something new. They are aiming for our hearts this time. Obama may too often offer us disappointment, but Romney offers us a government-perverting disaster from which the country literally may not recover. This is exactly what we have been protesting. Will we protest it now?
Which outcome do you prefer? Which side are you on?