Oligarchs are ruining America. They are ruining the economy through their rampant theft and corporate welfare handouts. They are ruining our social structure with their billions used to buy and sell politicians as well as entire Presidential elections. They represent an existential threat to the Republic and the cancer needs to be addressed at once.
Oligarchs now control both phony political parties. On the Democratic side, we have Warren “tax loophole” Buffett and George Soros. On the Republican side, we must become increasingly aware of casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who boasts an estimated net worth of around $37 billion.
For those still daydreaming that the GOP may nominate a more libertarian-leaning candidate in 2016, rather than the typical big government, warmongering neo-con, the biggest obstacle in your way is Sheldon Adelson and his billions. This threat was on clear display this past weekend in Vegas when Chris Christie, Paul Walker and Jeb Bush all made the pilgrimage to “kiss his ring.”
The serious threat to our political system posed by Adelson was covered by both “left-leaning” and “right-leaning” commentators (although I hate those terms). First, Juan Cole writes at Bill Moyers that:
A series of pro-corporation Supreme Court decisions and the latter’s disingenuous equation of money with speech, including Citizens United, have turned the United States from a democracy to a plutocracy. It is not even a transparent plutocracy, since black money (of unknown provenance) has been allowed by SCOTUS to flood into elections. These developments are not only deadly to democracy, they threaten our security. It is increasingly difficult to exclude foreign money from US political donations. We not only come to be ruled by the billionaires, but even by foreign billionaires with foreign rather than American interests at heart.
The perniciousness of this growing plutocracy was on full display on Saturday, as GOP governors Scott Walker, Chris Christie and John Kasich trekked off to Las Vegas in an attempt to attract hundreds of millions in campaign donations from sleazy casino lord Sheldon Adelson. Since Adelson is allegedly worth $37 billion, he could fund the Republican side of a presidential election (which costs $1 billion) all by himself. In the last presidential election he is said to have donated $100 million.
One important thing he thing he failed to mention was that Jeb Bush was also there, featuring prominently at a private dinner with Adelson and others.
The case of Adelson exhibits all these issues of corruption and eccentricity. Much of his current fortune is recent and derives from the Macao casino, and Adelson has admitted to “likely” breaking Federal rules against using bribes to do business in other countries. (A reference to allegations that his company was involved in rewarding legislators of the Chinese Communist Party for supporting his Macao project.) There was a time when this admission alone would put the donor off limits for mainstream politicians.
Adelson has a right to vote and advocate for his candidates. But the idea that he and his like should choose the next president is too awful to contemplate. One person, one vote isn’t one person, $100 million worth of votes. That isn’t democracy…
CBS has also chimed in with some interesting commentary:
Both Christie and Bush are cut from the same mainstream Republican cloth: well liked by the donor class and viewed suspiciously by conservative activists. If they both compete in 2016 — and to be clear, neither has decided on a bid — they’ll be fighting for the roughly same slice of the Republican pie, and perhaps more importantly, many of the same donors.
But as Christie stumbled, Bush soared. The former governor was feted at a private dinner on Thursday to kick off the weekend. The dinner was held at Adelson’s private airplane hangar.
Bush delivered brief remarks at the dinner, and after one attendee urged him to run for president, the crowd of donors burst into applause, according to a report in the Washington Post.
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