The Permanent Campaign
I've been reading Jane Mayer's “Dark Money” over the past few weeks, but only in short bursts. Otherwise I think my head would explode with anger.
It's truly enraging. Since I was born in 1963, this country has gone through social progress but economic regress. We're all more equal now except for the wealthiest among us, who keep getting wealthier. And the reason for that, I would argue, is in the title of Mayer's book: the money that's been funneled into think tanks and universities and politician's pockets to push an anti-regulation, pro-libertarian agenda. All the bullshit political items that seem to come out of left (read: right) field, like privatizing Social Security? That's these guys.
“Dark Money” already feels like the most important book of the year, and I wish more people were reading it. In the meantime, another excerpt:
When Obama took office, the stock market was down nearly six thousand points, and unemployment was shooting up toward 7 percent. As the former senator Tom Daschle later recalled, “There was a growing sense of calamity.” Obama expected bipartisan support at a moment that seemed like an economic version of the September 11, 2001, crisis. He had proclaimed in his 2004 keynote address to the Democratic National Convention, “There is not a liberal America and a conservative America. There is the United States of America!” Or so he thought. Obama's billionaire opponents wasted no time indulging him in a honeymoon. Forty-eight hours after Obama was sworn in, Americans for Prosperity started attacking his first major piece of legislation, a massive $800 billion Keynesian-inspired boost in public spending and tax cuts meant to stimulate the economy, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. ...
What Obama was up against was a new form of permanent campaign. It was waged not by politicians but by people whose wealth gave them the ability to fund their own private field operations with which they could undermine the outcome of the election.
It's not the political campaign anymore, it's the aftermath. That's when the campaign truly starts—when the rest of us are back at our day jobs.