The Elect-An-Oligarch Approach to “Democracy”
As wealth is sucked out of Main Street U.S., the proliferating number of U.S. billionaires (565 as of 2017) is twisting our political system. There are many layers to this.
Multi-billionaires may back grassroots efforts, openly, which might be debatable but is not nefarious. George Soros is an Hungarian-born U.S. citizen who is one of the world's most ruthless and successful investors, with a net worth of $25.2 billion. He has over decades through his Open Society Foundation given $11 billion to European democracy movements and to for example feminism in the United States. Both the extreme right and extreme left tend to see his face in coffee grounds and toast, but there is no evidence that he is “paying neoliberals to protest”.
The secret political expenditures of global corporations, multi-millionaires and billionaires in elections are however increasingly problematic, thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling that allows them to skate under the radar.
Whether Soros or any other billionaire has gives Dark Money — and to whom — is by definition unknowable. Dark Money Parties, secret political groups of billionaires, are for their part becoming a plague. So far they are exclusively right wing. Each Dark Money group potentially constitutes a major “third party force”, their rise described by Jane Mayer, author, Dark Money The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right.Vastly more than just individual “secret big donors,” Dark Money Parties have agendas, staff, ideologies, candidates, prodigious bankrolls and strategies of voter outreach, and repeatedly ride in over the will of the U.S. people. They have a parasitic relationship with the Republican Party.
Strangely however they are aided by the Democrats’ activities as well. The 2017 Trump election is a prime example:
DNC/HRC Deliberately Activated the White Nationalists and religious Fanatics Through Trump, Then Dark Money Stepped In
Wikileaks releases of DNC/Clinton/Podesta e-mails — no one involved denies their authenticity — show that in 2015 the Democratic National Committee [DNC] and Hillary Clinton’s campaign adopted what they called a “Pied Piper Strategy” of helping an extremist Republican candidate get his party’s nomination.
They knew that such men would predictably “attract crazies” like white nationalists and violent religious zealots, who would in turn commit horrors. The Clinton campaign figured that voters would then vote for Clinton out of fear of the “crazies”.
Clinton’s campaign therefore looked at Republicans like Ben Carson, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, choosing Trump. According to people who heard both ends of the phone conversation, Bill Clnton encouraged Trump in his plans for the nation. Hillary and the Democratic National Committee [DNC] meanwhile helped Trump by treating him as the presumptive Republican nominee while orchestrating free coverage through collusive media. Endangering lives throughout the country, Trump indeed “attracted the crazies” and ignited their rage.
In August, 2016, with Trump safely the Republican nominee, Clinton took the props out from under him, and Trump collapsed in the polls, a politically confused man with a campaign team in disarray, but still wildly inciting his base, potentially easy prey for Hillary to beat in the November general election.
At that point, a tiny but prodigiously powerful Dark Money Party unexpectedly stepped in, quite different from both the Democrats and the Republicans....
The Mercers and Bannon
As Mayer documents in The New Yorker and has described on air, the Dark Money Party which moved in to save Trump is headed by Robert Mercer, a quant fund multi-billionaire and co-owner of Breitbart, and his 40-year-old daughter Rebekah Mercer, with its operations orchestrated by Breitbart managing editor Steve Bannon.
Also part of the Mercer package, Kellyanne Conway was the visible manager of the fall Trump campaign.
Dark Money Parties avoid concerns like ballot access by being parasites on the shriveling Democratic and Republican parties. Trump was thus elected as a Republican. Thanks to many points of difference, the Bannon Dark Money Party and the Republicans controlling Congress however do not coordinate well. The Mayers’ Dark Money Party is for example protectionist. Republicans are globalists. They are from two different political parties, with opposed goals.These secret political parties operating in our midst are so veiled in terms of money, and so small in terms of core people, that they can operate unnoticed. Dark Money Parties however may additionally “astroturf”, cloaking a billionaire agenda by taking over the misspelled signs and Bermuda shorts of a right-wing grassroots movement, like the Tea Party....
In The Dawn of Astroturfing
The people who founded the Tea Party movement for example were NASCAR fans concerned with not passing a huge national debt onto their kids. A sincerely populist movement, they were however overwhelmed and twisted to the purposes of two multi-billionaire brothers who are among the nation’s major polluters of water and key funders of climate change denial: oil barons Charles and Davis Koch.
Theirs was the first Dark Money Party.
Mayer writes that the Kochs saw that if they got other uber-wealthy people together and
pooled their vast resources, they could fund an interlocking array of organizations that could work in tandem to influence and ultimately control academic institutions, think tanks, the courts, statehouses, Congress, and, they hoped, the presidency....Most of their political activities could be written off as tax-deductible “philanthropy.”...Funding sources were hidden whenever possible. This process reached its apotheosis with the allegedly populist Tea Party movement....And their efforts have been remarkably successful. Libertarian views on taxes and regulation...still rejected by most Americans, are ascendant in the majority of state governments, the Supreme Court, and Congress. [emphasis mine].
Finally we have billionaires reaching for the presidency, not just Trump.
Party of One
Multi-billionaire Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of social media, the founder of Facebook, is apparently planning a 2020 run for the United States presidency — he denies it but has hired campaign consultants from the Clinton, Bush and Obama runs and has just completed a whirlwind tour to see firsthand how the other 99.9999999% lives.
Like other billionaire candidates before him, Zuck will predictably assure us that he cannot be bought, because in his case only four people in the world have more money.
He belongs to no political party and does not need one; he has no need to fundraise; having $70 billion in personal assets. Sure, that would in some imaginary world be a plus for the nation. The corporate media blacked out news of Bernie Sanders for eight months, but there is no way they could black out Zuck, right? Someone with an extra $70 billion on hand could do great good. Thing is, no-one with an extra $70 billion on hand can be said to be doing any good that is commensurate with his financial ability to do it.
He is instead racking up money-points against the other multi-billionaires.
Zuck is young, 33. His Millennial generation is ardently pro-democracy, privacy and social responsibility, and sees acting on climate change as urgent. Thing is, Zuck, although a tech wizard and on the leading edge in that sense, is out of step with his Millennial generation politically. The politicians to whom Zuck contributes are not young crusaders for restored democracy, demanding relief and renewed opportunity for our people.
Zuck backs for example Republican Neoconservative Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey and Democratic Neoliberal Senator Corey Booker of New Jersey — both known for subsiding global corporations with taxpayer money. Not coincidentally, Facebook owes the United States five billion dollars in back taxes according to the IRS. (it declared income that was made in the US as having been earned in Ireland.) The subsidies that global corporations receive in the U.S. are meanwhile mindblowing, and not only at federal level. In Maiden, Oregon, for example Zuckerberg’s corporation, Facebook, is excused from paying $2.8 million a year as long as it keeps an average staff off 35 people. The local taxpayers thus pay $80,000 of the salary of each local Facebook staff member.
Julian Assange of Wikileaks moreover calls Facebook “the most appalling spy machine that has ever been invented.” One of the major factors crippling our democracy is the political uses of Big Data, the enormous amount of information produced by the Internet, crunched by uber fast computers. Among its other effects, it allows each of us to be spied on and manipulated. Facebook, with two billion users worldwide, “data-mines” us continuously, getting thousands of personal data points of information about each of us, then makes its money by selling information about us to other global corporations.
Meanwhile it simply gives that information, gives us, to the Deep State, the U.S. shadow corporate government that has formed at the crossroads of surveillance corporations and Wall Street. Zuck is thus the man who gave us social media AND the pink-cheeked face of Big Brother.
Restoring a Genuine, Above-Board Two-Party System
The Democratic Party was once the party of the huge U.S. middle class, achieved through distribution of our vast prosperity and by giving opportunity as well as support to the poor. Republicans represented the socially responsible rich. That worked. Since the Clinton/New Democrats takeover of the former workers’ party in 1993, however, it has shifted hard right, merging into the Republicans, taking the U.S. government with it. With nothing to stop the skid, Republicans went extreme right wing, lacking even the concern for national infrastructure, jobs and health shown by European fascists.
Most of the U.S. people by contrast have since 1993 remained or shifted left, and have thus for thirty years been without representation in their own government. Sixty-six percent of U.S. voters hold Progressive views,; the core are “New Deal” social democrats. That U.S. supermajority is unifying. The first Progressive Convergence convention was September 8-10 at the American University in DC.