Political Parties Are Basically Bank Accounts

Picture: Flickr 401(K) 2012 (CC)

Don’t think for an instant that just because the big moneyed GOP didn’t sweep the Senate and White House, that Citizen’s United didn’t change this election. With over $6 billion spent, much of it in secret, the rich are already claiming that this election (against the Big Bad Socialists) vindicates their philosophy. Although when your thinking is based on confirmation bias and intellectual dishonesty, basically everything vindicates you, no matter which way it goes. Al Franken and others are proposing constitutional amendments to overturn Citizen’s United, and others are still analyzing the damage done in House races and local Propositions. 11 states now support such measures, but still have outside spending to contend with.

Political science professor Thomas Ferguson is another critic of influence-peddling through poorly regulated campaign finance. He goes on to describe the corrupting effects of lobbying, ‘revolving door’ politicians, and the relationship of the financial industry.


So there are enormous sums of money that plainly overwhelm the influence of voters on nearly everything. There’s just been a study by Martin Gilens, a politics professor at Princeton University, that shows that upper-income public opinion predicts policy outcomes pretty well, but there’s absolutely no impact for middle-class and lower-class voters’ public opinion. If they disagree with the rich, they can’t get anything. I do think that result is historically conditioned, though. So if you get a popular movement, you get results. I mean, the New Deal did happen. But in a situation like you’ve got right now, political parties are basically bank accounts. This argument used to be received with skepticism. Now, everybody’s getting it from the Super PAC phenomenon.

They effectively allow folks to go outside the party system and just spend as much as they want. And the numbers are staggering. They are just in the hundreds of millions. It seems pretty plain to me that Romney, for example, largely bought the Republican nomination with those Super PACs. You could see that in the primaries, when he went into a state down 8 or 9 points then spent $200 to $300 million in Super PAC money, and then he usually steals the lead from whoever he’s running against—Santorum, Gingrich. He didn’t win them all, but most. That was a money story. When you get to the general election, the Democrats have a lot of money too. So what you get is two money blocs and a fair amount of common ground between the two candidates.

It’s an oligopoly in its strongest form, but that’s not the way this problem is being presented.

For more of his choice words; especially how similar Democrats and Republicans are on these issues of money and corruption, read the whole interview here.


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12 Comments on "Political Parties Are Basically Bank Accounts"

  1. Anarchy Pony | Nov 19, 2012 at 7:58 pm |

    A representative democracy wherein you send your representative off to some distant capital is eminently susceptible to corruption. Decentralize and localize.

    • Apathesis | Nov 20, 2012 at 7:17 pm |

      Yes! I wish more people could see how inadequate and corrupt our current system is.

  2. InfvoCuernos | Nov 19, 2012 at 8:25 pm |

    When I was first learning about our political system in elementary school, I remember the teacher correcting me for confusing capitalism as political rather than economic. All these years later, it seems I was correct in the first place. The consumers with the most money get to dictate the laws to the rest of us- you know, pretty much like its been throughout history.

  3. Obama said he would implement Carbon Tax in the US. I suspect on top of the already environmental fees imposed on hard working Americans. It’s all about the money, not once did he mention what it’s gonna be used for and how, only that he is gonna take it from YOU. The money will simply go missing like enviro fees……..with no accountability, yet Americans will be more than happy to give it. All in the name of scare mongoring.

    • You shouldn’t work so hard.

    • Carbon tax would be to curb unregulated realease waste into the air, at least trying to force some companies to innovate. I am more worried about his drone attacks, indefinate detention and laws to censore the interwebs, carbon tax im cool with but its a cop out.

      • How is carbon tax gonna force a company to curb carbon footprint? The cost is simply passed on to the consumer. No mandate to change manufacturing process. I think you are confusing laws with money collection, they are completely different.

  4. BuzzCoastin | Nov 19, 2012 at 10:24 pm |

    insider stock trading is legal for Congress
    the investments of Congress have significantly increased in value since 2008
    that sums up the situation nicely

    • As I recall, the returns on Congresscritter’ investment portfolios look like the ones at top hedge funds. We should consider ourselves fortunate to be represented by elected officials who obviously have so much skill in investing.

  5. I recall a comment in an article about that study that suggests that it’s possible that upper-income political opinion appears to reflect real political action because upper-income people’s political opinions reflect those of the political elites (as in the billionaire class), not because elected officials actually care what people who are only millionaires think.

  6. “big moneyed GOP”? They were seriously out-spent by the Democrats.

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