It’s just hilarious how things always even out. If you were all worried about the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case, about unlimited and anonymous money allowed into political election campaigns, you most likely are a liberal or libertarian. Richer people skew conservative these days, so the left side of the aisle thought they’d have more to fear from the Citizens United decision. And they did, it’s true that most of the anonymous money so far has gone to help conservatives.
The height of irony in this caper approaches humor, because unfettering the purses of the wealthy is crippling the Republican party and leaving the Democrats unaffected. Think about the right-leaning wealthy. Who are they? They are mainly business leaders who have big offices in tall buildings. More importantly, how did they get there? Because they’re go-getters, dealmakers and tough competitors, sometimes called Type-A personalities. This sort of person does great at their own business, but tends toward difficulty when working with equals. It’s the nature of the breed.
Already rich and in a leadership role at work, thus accustomed to having people obey them, the newest “donor class” is today the most able to influence politics. Yet at the same time they are uniquely unsuited to coordinate their efforts. Hilarious. So far, the biggest effect of the Citizens United decision has been to fracture the political right wing. Made it larger, yes, but at the price of potency.
A large influx of money has gone to party primaries on the Republican side, something we don’t see happening in Democratic primaries. Add to this another side fact: 2010 was a census year and coincided with a conservative resurgence in state elections. Thus, many states where the census results forced re-drawing the lines for electoral districts did so in a way which ensures conservatives will win until at least 2022. But making those seats in Congress more reliably red has had unintended consequences. As long as it’s going to go Republican as drawn, and if there’s an open fire hydrant of money, now the electoral district’s primary becomes much more important than the general election, and Democrats can’t vote in most Republican primaries. We have a closed loop, often called a ‘feedback loop’.
The outcome is to elevate several people to Congress from state legislatures, in states with a 1-party government, where there is no opportunity to ever learn how to compromise with a political opposition. They’re called the Freedom Caucus in the House, about 50 strong, and they have paralysed the whole of Congress. And they are the direct result of the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court.
The threat of a well-funded primary challenge has cowed a hundred otherwise reasonable Republicans into positions farther rightward than they’d like, simply because their district has been redrawn to always come up red when the coin is flipped every two years.
The other 80 Republican Housemembers support the more centrist national party leadership, because they’re from “blue” states where more extremely conservative positions could flip their seat. And they’re from states where the 2010 redistricting was done via 2-party compromise, so there’s less chance of a strong ideologue getting elected, either from the left or right.
The lesson is an old one: be careful what you wish for. The US Constitution is a very finely crafted thing, and if you try to nail one edge down to your favor, another one will pop up in your face. But that doesn’t stop people from trying.
It’s only natural. More money gets put into safe-seat primaries from donors on one political wing, then the more disjointed that wing becomes. Hilarious.