By MARTY GOODMAN
“Anybody who wants to be an ambassador must at least give $250,000.” — Richard Nixon’s price check to his Chief of Staff on campaign donations.
This year’s U.S. presidential campaign fundraising is expected to double the record-breaking $1 billion presidential campaign haul of 2008. Everything has its price under capitalism, including democracy.
The campaign is unfolding under the shadow of the game-changing 2010 Supreme Court decision in “Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission,” which upheld the “free speech” rights of unlimited, secret corporate campaign donations.
The result has been virtually unrestricted campaign funding of political campaign organizations known as Political Action Committees (PACs), now re-configured as “super-PACs.” Seldom invoking the moral depravity of the Watergate crimes, when the Nixon administration used secret campaign funds to finance the Watergate break-in on Democratic headquarters, the corporate media ignores the mass outrage that led to so-called Congressional “campaign reform,” now largely overturned, along with a century of previous reforms (see Mother Jones, July/August, 2012)
For the last three summer vacations, Barack Obama and family stayed on Martha’s Vineyard, near Cape Cod, Mass., a prime vacation destination for the 1% elite. But not this year! Obama says he is with “Main Street,” the 99%. Yeah, sure. But neither will Mitt Romney likely be at his New Hampshire vacation estate much, after being stung with revelations that his Bain Capital associates slashed jobs for maximum profit.
Republican millionaire Mitt Romney and the Obama camp have organized exclusive dinner fundraisers; the most extravagant have taken place in New York and Hollywood, where dinner can set you back $40,000—more than most people see in their entire lifetime.
The New York Times wrote that for Romney, there is “a natural bond between him and his top dollar supporters.” Romney’s campaign received $229,000 from his former company, Bain Capital, a brutal job-cutting, slash-and-burn investment firm. Bain’s donations went to both parties, though mostly to Romney, but have declined. Nevertheless, since the 2008 election cycle the Democrats have received $1.3 million from Bain, double what Republicans received. Bill Clinton defended Bain against Obama’s hypocritical criticism.
Barack claims 98% of his donations are $250 or less; Mitt says 93% of his donations are small. But both have their billionaires and multi-millionaires. At one $40,000-a-plate dinner for New York celebs, Obama said, “You’re the tie-breaker. You’re the ultimate arbitrator of which direction this country goes.”
In fact, in 2008, the Obama camp raised a record $730 million, and clobbered his opponent John McCain, who raised a mere $333 million. Obama, in one of his first betrayals, rejected public campaign funding. Barack Obama was the preferred candidate of Wall Street in the last election, at $15.8 million its fourth largest contributor. The crooks at Goldman Sachs, recipients of billions in bailout funds, were Barack’s best paying Wall Street pals!
The Wall Street criminals are in a panic over sagging economic prospects (their own, of course!) and the simmering anger of working people against bank bailouts and rip-offs. Wall Street looks nervously at mass movements in Egypt that kicked out a U.S.-backed puppet, mass strikes erupting across southern Europe, mass protests against attacks on union rights in Wisconsin, and Occupy Wall Street, etc.
This year, many in the Bankster class chose to switch horses due to “reforms” under Obama that barely scratch the surface of corporate theft, like the 2010 Obama-backed regulatory Dodd-Frank bill, and Obama’s proposal for a minor tax on those making over $250,000. (If elected, we can expect Obama to capitulate to the Tea Party on those issues anyway!)
In 2012, however, according to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), Romney is the current favorite of Wall Street crooks, who forked over $34 million to their man of the hour.
However, the July 3 Wall Street Journal observes that “the securities and investment industry has remained a top Obama donor. Together, Obama and the Democratic National Committee have raised more than $14.4 million from the industry toward the 2012 election cycle, according to the most recent data available from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. [It] contributed about $3.5 million to the Obama campaign, making it the sixth-ranking sector supporting the president’s re-election. The Democratic National Committee has received almost $11 million from the industry through June, the center reports, the third-highest industry donor.”
Swept under the rug in this dance between competing wings of the 1% are attacks on the right to organize unions, dwindling family resources, the deportations of immigrants, attacks on civil liberties, police brutality, and unemployment that hovers above 8%. Real unemploy- ment is actually far higher and at depression levels for African American and Hispanic youth.
An astounding new study by a Congressional non-partisan research service reveals that the share of the nation’s wealth held by the less affluent half of American households dropped precipitously after the financial crisis, to 1.1 percent. The share of total net worth held by the wealthiest 1 percent was 34.5 percent in 2010. The top 10 percent’s share was 74.5 percent.
Working people have no stake in either candidate. The unspoken goal of the 1% in this election, or any other election, is to elect someone who can divert the anger of working people into safe channels that do not threaten the obscene wealth of those who own the election process, the workplace, and basically the entire country.
Socialists say: End the wars now! Trillions for jobs, not banks! Full employment at union wages! Cancel the student debt! Nationalize the banks, auto industry, and energy industry—to be run democratically by the workers! Working people need our own fighting labor party.