Money. Huge amounts of money poured into our political system. It’s really astounding, looking at those numbers. When I’m feeling kindly, I worry about these mega-rich guys spending all their money without hard evidence that it’ll do anything for them. I mean, egad, will Peter Thiel — the Thin-Skinned Peter Thiel — run out of money as he tries to build an autocracy-oligarchy in the U.S.A?
As their purses shrink alarmingly, will some of them commit suicide?
Meanwhile, though, my question is: does it work and if it does, how?
Here’s where my lack of paranoia, i.e., the ability to smell dark conspiracies anywhere, leaves me empty, holding onto the bare branches of reality. Starting with actual voting, at no time has anybody offered me money to vote in a particular way or, alternatively, sit home and not vote at all.
Indeed, I can’t imagine how pay-to-vote would work. When I go to my local polling place, I don’t run into anybody outside lurking in a corner, whispering, “Hey, girlie, wanna earn some money?”
So where does all that money go?
But most of these ads aren’t — indeed, can’t be — directed to us voters. We didn’t get to vote on whether Gorsuch should be on the Supreme Court. Although he is on the Supreme Court, it was five senators who put him there. And this leaves me wondering why this Big Dark Money spent so much on TV ads, rather than lobbying those senators — maybe while holding large amounts of cash out. “Hey, girlie, wanna earn some money?” (Two of them were “girlies,” don’t yell at me.)
Here’s what I think. Big Dark Money has both contempt for and fear of us American voters. They can’t buy us and I have serious doubts those TV ads change anyone’s opinions.
Except they can screw up popular referendums.
So that’s something we all must be vigilant about. Not paranoid, but vigilant, because the way it’s done is to have the initiatives or referendums written so badly that voters can’t understand them, and vote against their own wishes.
Before the recent Kansas referendum on abortion, I read numerous warnings to voters that the referendum was deliberately misleading, suggesting you should vote “Yes” to doom abortion bans when the correct vote was “No.”
Is it too much of a leap to say that Kansas women were smart enough not to be fooled?
Lately I’ve been noticing a TV ad, couched as a public service announcement, which exemplifies how bad people with too much money pack ads and initiatives with misleading or thoroughly dishonest warnings. Maybe you’ve seen the ad. It purports to be in support of small (tech) businesses and inventors, some of whom (actors, I’d think) appear on camera talking directly to us, plaintively. They tell us t0 call our congresspeople to get them to stop what they’re supposedly doing to wreck these businesses and American technological inventiveness.
The first time I heard this ad, I wondered what it was talking about. What was Congress doing to kill American technological innovation?
Then it hit me. The Biden Administration had brought into the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division a guy, Jonathan Kanter, with the reputation for tough wizardry against potential antitrust violators. That is, big companies. Big Tech, not your local geek who maintains your computer and experiments with hacking code in the evenings.
The United States has launched investigations and prosecutions against — hold on here — Google, Apple, Meta (Facebook).
The tag line in that ad is something like, “Tell them to stop undercutting America’s tech innovators.”
So let’s guess whose Dark Money Pac is paying for those TV ads.
Meanwhile, Sheldon Whitehouse, the hyper-intelligent and persistent senator from Rhode Island, keeps pitching his DISCLOSE Act, which he wrote (I’m pretty sure) with Congressman Ro Khanna. This bill would force Dark Money groups to fully disclose their contributors so we’ll be able to name the people trying to buy our votes.
The DISCLOSE Act, already written and introduced to Congress, can be passed in 2023 or 2024 if the Democrats can hold the House and increase their majority in the Senate.