Rove on the hot seat

Karl Rove’s American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS reportedly collected and spent between $300M-$400M this election cycle. The result:

  • Barack Obama retained the presidency, obliterating Mitt Romney in the so-called battleground states.
  • The Democratic Party gained a seat in the Senate.
  • The Democratic Party gained three seats in the House (this could change).

How might Rove spin this political-financial debacle? I cannot say, but he will make the effort to Crossroads contributors today, according to Politico. The big donors are pissed, according to a Huffington Post report, at their money being ill spent.

I would not complain at all if the GOP were to have A Night of the Long Knives. I find it difficult to imagine that a purge would dramatically alter the political situation in the United States. Besides, the blood-letting might produce more than a few amusing auto-satirical incidents!

Recommended: Massive Surge of Republican Money in Last Ditch Effort to Sink Obama

Thomas Ferguson and his collaborators have warned us about an endgame surge by the Romney campaign, a possible leap in his popularity that might eventually bury the Obama presidency. In this respect the Romney campaign may mimic the Bush campaign of 2000. Both have been fueled by massive spending and guided by lying. These, to be sure, are core competencies of the Republican Party. It is because of this late cycle spending that G.W. Bush leapt over Gore in the last days of the electoral season, although his election victory was helped by a corrupted electoral mechanism and a most dubious Supreme Court decision. Additional political disasters followed the constitutional coup d’état of December, 2000.

This is the post-Citizen’s United age in American politics, and money collection and spending along with elite ‘generosity and civic mindedness’ are the true stories of the current electoral season. This fact does not distinguish the 2012 elections from its recent predecessors. The defining mark this year issues from the quantities of money spent during the campaign. The Romney campaign, according to Ferguson, et. al., lately seems to be spending large sums of this money in the battleground states to win a victory next week. This effort favors Romney, of course.

A Romney victory fueled by big donor cash would certainly prompt outrage by Democratic Party partisans, although their rage would obscure the massive amounts of money raised and spent by the 2012 and 2008 Obama campaigns. The Democratic Party lacks clean hands in this matter. It, like the Republican Party, serves as a tool of Wall Street, the security-surveillance apparatus and, in a word, the empire. Thus the cries of the partisans ought to be considered mere hypocrisy rendered into obscure sounds, wholly without intrinsic importance. The somewhat obscure significance of this kind and degree of campaign spending lies elsewhere. Ferguson and company rightly locate and identify the effect produced by this money:

Big Money’s most significant impact on politics is certainly not to deliver elections to the highest bidders. Instead it is to cement parties, candidates, and campaigns into the narrow range of issues that are acceptable to big donors. The basis of the “Golden Rule” in politics derives from the simple fact that running for major office in the U.S. is fabulously expensive. In the absence of large scale social movements, only political positions that can be financed can be presented to voters. On issues on which all major investors agree (think of the now famous 1 percent), no party competition at all takes place, even if everyone knows that heavy majorities of voters want something else.

The quoted passage neatly expresses the gist of Sheldon Wolin’s inverted totalitarian thesis, namely, “Antidemocracy, executive predominance, and elite rule are basic elements of inverted totalitarianism” (2008, 239). Or, to make the point in different terms, those who have the gold make the rules, as Ferguson suggested in his classic book. The United States remains a democracy, albeit a highly qualified democracy. Elections occur, and candidates circulate in and out of office. But the demos at large cannot control or even hold its governors accountable for what they do or fail to do. Fractions of the demos that sit beyond the pale cannot expect to win the next election, as electoral losers can expect in a functioning representative democracy. They will remain a nullity. As a consequence, American citizens are principals without agents. The principals that count in American politics are the gold holders. The participation of the “lesser people” (Alan Simpson) in the creation of collective political power mimics that of a compliant and nearly mute Greek chorus. They may select only from all but indistinguishable options. The demos at large can therefore only replace one faceless face (or set of faceless faces) with another without, however, altering economic and security policy in a significant way. These policy choices belong to the gold bearing elite and oligarchs. The democratic mechanism in the United States thus makes adverse selection an unavoidable fate for most voters. Only massive and mutually supportive social movements have the potential power needed to break the cash-government connection. As Wolin once put the matter: In the United States…it is the streets where democracy is most alive…”, a “fugitive democracy” much like the early demos (2008, 227), but a democracy nevertheless.

Indeed.

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The ungrateful bastards

The New York Times reports that:

President Obama’s re-election campaign is straining to raise the huge sums it is counting on to run against Mitt Romney, with sharp dropoffs in donations from nearly every major industry forcing it to rely more than ever on small contributions and a relative handful of major donors.

From Wall Street to Hollywood, from doctors and lawyers, the traditional big sources of campaign cash are not delivering for the Obama campaign as they did four years ago. The falloff has left his fund-raising totals running behind where they were at the same point in 2008 — though well ahead of Mr. Romney’s — and has induced growing concern among aides and supporters as they confront the prospect that Republicans and their “super PAC” allies will hold a substantial advantage this fall.

To whom does the Obama campaign turn when the stuffed-pocket crowd has turned its collective back on him?

With big checks no longer flowing as quickly into his campaign, Mr. Obama is leaning harder on his grass-roots supporters, whose small contributions make up well over half of the money he raised through the end of March, according to reports filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission.

As one should have expected after the Supreme Court’s very controversial Citizens United
decision (.pdf), the Republican Super PACs are fat with cash. This has forced the Obama campaign to appeal for funding from the lesser people whose interests he failed to serve during his first term.

Caveat emptor!

Pakistan’s government tried to buy American politicians

ProPublica reports that:

In a move that could add to the tension between the U.S. and Pakistan, the FBI Tuesday accused a Pakistani-American of secretly funneling at least $4 million from Pakistan’s top spy agency into American political activities, aiming to influence U.S. policy on Kashmir.

The White House responds to the iNews report