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Business as Usual: Money in Politics and the Field for the 2016 Presidential Election

A note on things to come ...

Upload: a two-party system, the lesser of two dangers, illusion of choice.
Download: a veiled form of fascism, nothing really ever changes, you never had a voice.

"Colonized Mind" - Prince

On Tuesday evening, despite what some undying believers might be saying and notwithstanding a political event without precedent, the Bell tolled on the Bernie Sanders campaign. The other end of the aisle, without much fanfare or opposition, essentially ceded the Northeast and the nomination to Donald Trump. The two-pronged story for the GOP going forward now boils down to exactly how badly the Cruz-Kasich alliance will backfire and whether what's left of the GOP is going to cannibalize itself at the convention in a final effort to stop Mr. Trump.  

In the 2012 Presidential election, a lot was made about Mitt Romney's personal wealth and wealthy donors.  The Obama campaign spun those facts to paint Mr. Romney as out of touch with the financial plight of average Americans, robotic in his persona.  Obviously, the "binders full of women" comment and choosing Paul "Second Most Punchable Face in Washington", Ryan as the Vice Presidential nominee did little to help his cause. (Ted Cruz, of course, is leading the pack of punchable faces in Washington by about as much as he is losing the primary to Mr. Trump).  

Of note in Mr. Romney's wealthy donor portfolio were the Koch Brothers. One such brother, Charles Koch, recently suggested that, after years of throwing vast sums of money behind Republican candidates, he might decide to bet on Hillary Clinton in 2016.  It's well-documented that Mrs. Clinton has a pretty expansive network of corporate interest dollars feeding her campaign.  And all this, while she continues to evade releasing the transcripts from her lucrative Wall Street speeches while either manipulating or getting a hall pass from much of the media.

In 2010, the Supreme Court of the United States issued an opinion in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which held that political spending is a form of protected speech under the First Amendment and that the government cannot prevent corporations and unions from spending money to support or denounce candidates.  This opened the floodgates for campaign spending and the result was a 2012 presidential contest which accounted for over $2bn in contributions.    

Ironically (miss you Alannis), while Mrs. Clinton purports to oppose the Citizens United decision, it is undisputed that she has been and will continue to benefit from its effect on money in politics.  On Wednesday morning, Reuters published an article suggesting that half of Americans think that the presidential primary nominating process is rigged.  While the system is not without its faults, the fact that Mr. Trump has successfully overcome the party long-known for its entrenched and financially powerful establishment is itself proof that the system is not rigged. 

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So now we turn to the choice that will be before us for the next 6 months: Mr. Trump, the physical manifestation of 15-20 years of fringe policy making, or Mrs. Clinton, who stands for many of the same values which were repudiated in Mr. Romney's failed 2012 campaign.  The dialogue has been and will continue to be that those who support Mr. Trump are uneducated, bigoted, maligned by society, or some combination thereof.  It's worth pointing out that narrative is wrong.  

Emmett Rensin, over at Vox, recently published an essay on smug liberalism worth reading.  Of particular note might be this excerpt:

On November 6, 2000, during his final pre-election stump speech, Bush explained his history of political triumph thusly: "They misunderesimated me."

What an idiot. American liberals made fun of him for that one for years.

It is worth considering that he didn't misspeak.

He did, however, deliberately cultivate the confusion. He understood the smug style. He wagered that many liberals, eager to see their opponents as intellectually deficient, would buy into the act and thereby miss the more pernicious fact of his moral deficits.

He wagered correctly. Smug liberals said George was too stupid to get elected, too stupid to get reelected, too stupid to pass laws or appoint judges or weather a political fight. Liberals misunderestimated George W. Bush all eight years of his presidency.

George W. Bush is not a dumbass hick. In eight years, all the sick Daily Show burns in the world did not appreciably undermine his agenda.

Nor is Mr. Trump stupid.  He has channeled the rage of a base that Mr. Obama knew existed in 2008 and it has brought Mr. Trump within eight-and-a-half points of Mrs. Clinton.  So, pick your poison.  

Red Pill, Blue Pill

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