Home > Uncategorized > Who Benefits from Political Polarization? The Donors to the Campaigns of Extremists

Who Benefits from Political Polarization? The Donors to the Campaigns of Extremists

May 18, 2017

“Why Republicans are Always Looking Over Their Shoulders”, Thomas Edsall’s column in today’s NYTimes, describes the bind that GOP house members and Senator find themselves in because the demographics in their party require them to tilt to the right in order to survive challenges from the extreme right in the primary campaigns.

A few years ago I heard Laurence Lessig, who is working to repeal Citizens United, speak. He made the point that dark money can have a particularly powerful and pernicious impact on primary elections, particularly on those elections that can exacerbate the polarization in our country.

This leads to this question: Who benefits when polarization occurs? Those who want to cripple the government, those who want fewer regulations, those who want to suppress the wages of workers and/or compromise their working conditions. and those who are happy to see a government that is divided and dysfunctional. The anti-government profiteers are happy to support candidates who focus on transgender bathrooms instead of focussing on issues of real import. Maybe a future column can look at who is funding these right-wing primary candidates and why.

By compelling GOP party members to skew rightward, those elected by the GOP are endorsing concepts like school vouchers and the complete and total elimination of any benefits that might help those who are disadvantaged in any way. The Democratic party, in response to this tilt, is fearful of skewing leftward for fear that they might lose moderate voters and so they have increasingly endorsed “centrist” neoliberal policies that favor “market driven” solutions to social problems. This leads them to support “school choice” in the form of for-profit charters… for profit charters that are underwritten by their political donors.

Here’s the bottom line from my perspective: when profiteers drive elections the rank and file voters have no choice. Neither party today espouses government solutions to social problems and both parties are beholden to profiteer donors. If our nation hopes to engage voters in the future, we need a REAL choice about the direction of our economy and a REAL debate about the role of government.


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