by Paul Waldman, The American Prospect
Today's New York Times has a story about Tom Steyer, a retired hedge fund billionaire who is planning to spend $100 million ($50 million of his own, and $50 million of other people's) in the 2014 election to support action on climate change, which in practice means electing Democrats.
That would put Steyer in the big leagues, though not at the top—the network of donors established by Charles and David Koch spent at least $400 million in 2012—and it raises the question of how liberals should feel about this kind of thing. If you believe that Citizens United has been a disaster for democracy, and spectacularly wealthy people shouldn't be able to swoop in to a House or Senate race with zillions of dollars and change the outcome from what it otherwise would be, then should you be bothered?
Some conservatives will naturally charge liberals with hypocrisy for being pleased about Steyer's efforts. Fair enough. But in practical terms, Citizens United is the law of the land, and there are only two ways an election can proceed at this point: either both rich liberals and rich conservatives will attempt to buy the election, perhaps cancelling out each other's efforts, or conservatives will have the field to themselves. Liberals would argue that faced with two bad choices, they'll choose the less damaging one, and the negative effects of Republican victories outweigh the moral compromise that comes from participating in the electoral billionaire auction. [MORE]