How much longer can America’s plutocracy be denied?
A recent report by The New York Times reveals that 158 of the richest families are now providing a “financial check on demographic forces” that are moving the country in a more progressive direction by contributing nearly half of all early money contributed for the 2016 presidential election cycle.
According to the Times, the 158 families contributed $250,000 or more through the June 30 filing deadline.
Furthermore, if those 158 families are combined with an additional 200 families that gave more than $100,000, then over half of all campaign donations in the 2016 presidential campaign cycle have so far come from less than 400 families. The 1% are running the show, or at least funding it.
The profile of those trying to buy the 2016 election is not surprising. The 158 families the Times analyzed acquired their wealth on Wall Street and through the energy industry. They donate to both parties with a greater emphasis on Republicans as of late. They are also stratified by location and activities:
Most of the families are clustered around just nine cities. Many are neighbors, living near one another in neighborhoods like Bel Air and Brentwood in Los Angeles; River Oaks, a Houston community popular with energy executives; or Indian Creek Village, a private island near Miami that has a private security force and just 35 homes lining an 18-hole golf course.
Sometimes, across party lines, they are patrons of the same symphonies, art museums or at-risk youth programs. They are business partners, in-laws and, on occasion, even poker buddies.
It is almost like there is something called “class” in American society. That wealthy people socialize with each other and see themselves as having the same political interests and act in concert with one another. Just a theory mind you. Obviously, more evidence is needed before supporting such a novel view.
The influence of the upper class on this election cycle has been abetted by the recent Citizens United Supreme Court decision which removed the already meager restraints on bribery. Under the strange rationale of “free speech,” the rich can now spend as much as they want on electioneering to pursue their interests.
Though the economy and political rules have been hopelessly bent in favor of the rich, it remains to be seen whether an electorate increasingly alienated from the economic elite will be swayed by the panoply of plutocrat puppets posing as public-interested candidates this presidential cycle. At some point, money may not be enough to stop demography.