from the Wall Street Journal, George Melloan’s Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy 2.0
Ms. Mayer is highly selective about which super-wealthy dabblers in politics she wants to expel. Warren Buffett, whose $62 billion fortune ranks second only to that of Bill Gates($76 billion), is not one of her targets. Rather she quotes him in support of her thesis, to the effect that the rich are winning the class war. Tom Steyer, the West Coast hedge-fund billionaire environmentalist, gets a bye as well. So does former Google CEO Eric Schmidt($11 billion), a big campaign contributor to Barack Obama, and Steven Spielberg, who has generously shared from his $3 billion nest egg to aid the goals of Bill and Hillary Clinton.A host of think tanks and political websites depend on liberal deep pockets, but their donors do not figure in “Dark Money.” Politically active, left-of-center oligarchs are apparently wonderful people, not dangerous ones.
Authors who argue that rich people can buy elections don’t get much support from history. The “oligarchs” behind Mitt Romney are still smarting from his defeat. In the 1930s, business titans could not buy victory for the anti-New Deal candidates who ran against Roosevelt. More than a century ago, during the Gilded Age, Congress managed to pass the Sherman Antitrust Act, to the sorrow of John D. Rockefeller and other one-percenters.
It can be argued that the cynicism behind the politics-for-sale claim, even when displayed by a talented writer like Ms. Mayer, reflects a distrust of the American democratic system—as if “the people” are commodities to be purchased and not autonomous beings who can think for themselves. The cynicism also denigrates the work of activists and scholars who join up with Cato, the Manhattan Institute, Heritage, Brookings, Hoover, the Sierra Club, the World Wildlife Foundation, Common Cause—or whatever organization one might choose—because they believe in what those bodies stand for, not because they are the mindless slaves of some rich donor.