Before We’re Flooded with Big Money, Let’s Build a Party Boat

Citizen Wealth DC Politics Financial Justice Voting Rights

WE-AA296_ELECTI_D_20120426165741New Orleans   It can’t be a surprise that the Republican, rightwing majority in the Roberts’ Supreme Court looked for a minute at the law and a long time at the galloping growth of the rich and advancing inequality, and decided to follow the money.   In a 5-4 decision the Supremes voted to unleash some of the last thin ropes holding the rich at the dock from drowning the American federal election political system.  My conclusion is simple:  if we can’t beat them, and we can’t outspend them, it’s time to build a party, so we have our own boat that can ride these waves.

            For a couple of minutes there are still limits on what the rich can give individual candidates, political committees, and party entities.  The real impact of this decision is that the rich can double down and bundle bigger checks to max out in aggregate terms.  As the Times calculated:

The House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, for example, could in theory approach a donor seeking to help Democrats win control of the House of Representatives, and solicit as much as $2.3 million — $5,200 for each Democratic candidate in every House race, plus a contribution to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.  A donor could also, in theory, give $5,000 per year to every political action committee currently registered with the Federal Election Committee. That would total more than $13 million, versus the $74,600 allowed under the existing aggregate cap.

            Of course these figures are already wrong, because before the month is over, I’ll bet real money that we’ll see a tsunami of new political action committees registered before the FEC, so a $13 million cap today could be $20, $30, or $50 million before the Presidential election in 2016.  Count on it!

            But, let’s face the facts.  Building political parties is way better than building these super-PACs that are the playthings of the Karl Rove’s and Koch Brothers.  Better to be a party animal than a rich man’s watch fob. 

            We need to build our own party.  There are so many rich people these days, that if somebody talks to enough of them, the odds finally have be in our favorite that we can find some that think like we do and would invest in building a political party for progressives and finance a national network of political committees to push for change.  It would mean a lot of folks writing million dollar checks but if we were really building a party and not just outfitting some pretty boys and girls with outsized ambitions, those would be investments in permanent capacity.

            Whenever I talk to my friend and longtime comrade Dan Cantor of the Working Families Party a part of the conversation inevitably is about his constant worries about the Herculean tasks of raising money to build a national party.  Well, the Supreme Court may have plunged the knife into the democracy, but they just gave a big boost to the Working Families’ Party or any other good idea for a political formation any of you might have, because you have to have a horse to beat a horse, and at least WFP is already in the field.  The rest of us need to start organizing our political committees as fast as we can, because, believe me, all of the lawyers on K-Street are drafting the boilerplate this week, so we best be putting our party boats on the money ocean and pushing the throttle up as far as it will go if we want to have a voice that can be heard over the stormy seas and giant waves that are coming.