November 18, 2014

GUEST ROOM: Money Doesn’t Talk, It Whispers

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With the Democratic Party’s loss of control of the Senate now complete, it would be wise for Democrats to begin to examine the exploitation of avenues through which conservative activists are trying to undermine the crown jewel of President Obama’s legacy: The Affordable Care Act. The secret money game is an unusual and controversial dynamic that is playing a bigger and more important role in each successive election. Democrats ought analyze this latest industry and learn from it to exploit it for their own gains. Even though this latest businesses should not exist, it does, and it would be ill-advised of the Democrats not to take advantage of it — because their opponents are.

The Koch brothers, for example, are capitalizing on the fact that tax-exempt groups, such as their Americans for Prosperity, can covertly donate essentially unlimited funds and never disclose the name of donors. Because of this, any current speculation on how much the Koch Brothers plan to spend this election is merely conjecture, but The New York Times is reporting that this number may very well be in the range of $300 million. On the website for Americans for Prosperity, articles inform potential voters with highly dubious claims such as that the minimum wage actually harms the poor, and that pollution does not actually cause asthma — but that too much cleanliness is possibly a cause. And even that is perhaps not the most underminded thing that the shady organization is up to. A Colorado news organization reported that Americans for Prosperity mailed out letters to people, comparing their voting record to that of their neighbors — essentially voter shaming. The letters read, “As you can see below, public records indicate your neighbors have a more consistent voting pattern.” In Alaska, CNN reported that residents received letters by the organization threateningly asking, “What if your friends, your neighbors and your community knew whether you voted?” Apparently, one’s voting record, but not whom they voted for, is public record, and the organization is shamelessly exploiting this.

Another clandestine conservative organization, Crossroads GPS, was planning to spend $23 million in just the final two months before Election Day. Of course, the group is strategically planning to spend the bulk of this money in just six states — all of them swing states. And to only add salt to the wound, the group was co-founded by none other than Karl Rove. The group’s website states that their mission is to hold, “Washington’s feet to the fire on the practical issues,” but amusingly only list “Health Care” under the tab titled “Issues.” In typical GOP fashion, an advertisement by the group, entitled “Propaganda,” reiterates the same old tired out tropes about The Affordable Care Act. On the group’s Facebook page, childish memes are posted with juvenile captions such as, “Obama lied healthcare died.” Such unsophisticated and infantile attacks would be comedy gold, were it not for the fact that NPR reported that the group spent roughly $165 million in the 2012 election aiding Republicans.

But what does all this mean? It means that we have returned to an era where under-the-table deals and hush-hush transactions are the law of the land. Secrecy is just the way business is done in this new corporate America, and elections are just the latest plaything for the rich elites to buy. Just a few wealthy billionaires having so much sway in American politics is completely antithetical to the ideal of democracy. One person, one vote now only applies to those who cannot afford to lavishly spend millions of dollars gambling on their favorite candidate to win it all — government by the monied-interests.

David Brotz is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. He may be reached at [email protected]. Guest Room appears periodically this semester.