Billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who has already injected over $10 million into helping Newt Gingrich become President, told Forbes that he could easily spend $100 million this year on influencing politics. From Forbes:
Sheldon Adelson plays as stubbornly in politics as he does in business. So the criticisms that he’s trying to personally buy the presidential election for Newt Gingrich are met with a roll of the eyes. “Those people are either jealous or professional critics,”Adelson tells me during his first interview since he and his wife began funneling $11 million, with another $10 million injection widely expected, into the former speaker’s super PAC, Winning Our Future. “They like to trash other people. It’s unfair that I’ve been treated unfair—but it doesn’t stop me. I might give $10 million or $100 million to Gingrich.”
Is that fair? “I’m against very wealthy people attempting to or influencing elections,” he shrugs. “But as long as it’s doable I’m going to do it. Because I know that guys like Soros have been doing it for years, if not decades. And they stay below the radar by creating a network of corporations to funnel their money. I have my own philosophy and I’m not ashamed of it.
Having elections heavily impacted by the whims of a few billionaires is a horrible way to run a democracy. Even the billionaires currently exploiting it admit it is a horrible system, but that hasn’t stopped them from choosing to exploit it.
Adelson’s decision to continue to single handedly keep the Gingrich effort sufficiently funded could have a huge impact on our country. If Gingrich dropped out, his supporters would go mainly to Rick Santorum, and that would seriously hurt Mitt Romney.
Even if you don’t believe massive campaign spending by a few billionaires will actually have that big an impact on election outcomes, this should still scare you. As long as some candidates/politicians simply believe campaign spending is important, this development will have serious policy implications. Any politician is going to be much less likely to run for office or take up some cause if he/she fears that a single billionaire is willing to spend millions against them.
It is not just large amounts of money these few wealthy individual actually spend on politics that matters. Perhaps even more important is the power of the implied threat that these individuals could spend huge amounts if someone really crossed them.
A “democracy” in which so much political power can be wielded by a few super rich individual is not much of a democracy.