Heads Big Money Wins, Tails You Lose

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If the common media narrative is to be believed, Sheldon Adelson and the other mega-donors of 2012 are the laughingstocks of America, having poured hundreds of millions of dollars into influencing the year’s elections, but losing in most races.

In a recent Huffington Post column, Miles Mogulescu tears into this narrative and the resulting liberal schadenfreude to show how the unlimited money set loose by a series of Supreme Court decisions is a bigger threat to democracy than ever before.

“Since the 2012 elections -- the most expensive in history at a cost of $6 billion -- there has been a growing media narrative that because Sheldon Adelson's millions and Karl Rove's super PACs didn't defeat Barack Obama or create a Republican Senate, money in politics and post-Citizens United super PACs really aren't such a big deal.

Indeed this line has often been most pronounced in the liberal media, which has enjoyed itself by gloating, "Ha ha, Sheldon Adelson wasted his money and Karl Rove turned out to be a fool."

… To which I respond, "Bullsh*t!" The outsized influence of money in politics pre-selects the candidates of both parties, defines and delimits the range of issues and circumscribes what elected officials even attempt to accomplish once in office. Money in politics remains the greatest danger to government of, by, and for the people, and the 2012 elections only made a bad situation worse. […] For the wealthy political investor class, it's always heads we win, tails you lose.”

To those paying attention, Sheldon Adelson looks far from a fool. Adelson has said 2016 might see him spend double the $150 million amount he dropped in this year’s elections, and he and other huge donors are now enjoying unprecedented levels of influence over our political system.

First, consider the parade of 2016 presidential hopefuls out to Las Vegas to meet with Adelson, seeking an edge in what one outlet called the “Adelson primary,” which will be essential in a 2016 race in which any viable candidate is likely to need at least one billionaire sugar daddy in his or her camp.

Or, consider the fact that Adelson was granted personal audiences with Speaker of the House John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor last week to discuss the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. That’s right, the same law that Adelson’s company, Las Vegas Sands, is being investigated under for its dealings in Macau.

It’s not just Republicans suckling at the teat of big money, either. Democrats are planning on turning their super PACs from 2012 into a permanent infrastructure of unlimited money groups, heightening their reliance on mega-donors to fund groups like Majority PAC.

Additionally, Fred Eychaner, the top individual donor this cycle to left-leaning candidates and groups, has been lavished with attention from the administration, visiting the White House seven times and being named by Obama as a trustee for the Kennedy Center.

Until we see reform that elevates the place of ordinary Americans back to the center of the political process, we’ll continue to have a system that is rigged by big money and blocks effective governance. The wrongheaded media narrative that Mogulescu calls out only stands in the way of that needed progress.

Indeed, as LA Times writer Michael Hiltzik states in another recent column, “Just as the devil's finest trick is persuading you that he doesn't exist (according to the poet Baudelaire), the best trick of big-money political donors may be persuading Americans that Citizens United doesn't matter.”