Home > Uncategorized > Campaign Finance Reform and Privatization Joined at the Hip

Campaign Finance Reform and Privatization Joined at the Hip

August 4, 2018

Diane Ravitch has written several posts lamenting the name-brand Democrats who favor privatization of public services who are running for office against Trump supporters and thereby giving voters no real choice when it comes to voting. In Wisconsin, for example, she wrote in support of a candidate who is running in the primary for  the Democrats to oppose incumbent Governor, Scott Walker. The candidate who currently leads in that campaign is Tony Evers, who was elected to State Superintendent and currently leads Walker in polls. But Mr. Evers, like Scott Walker, favors school choice and privatization. In another post a commenter lamented that the Democratic party is putting up a candidate in TN who is in favor of privatization. NY voters have a Democratic incumbent for Governor who has kowtowed to privatizers in NYC. And in Ohio the scandals involving for-profit charters have largely gone un-noticed by voters, in large measure because the Democratic party has not made them a focal issue in the forthcoming elections. Finally, and most distressingly, most of the prospective Democratic Party candidates for President in 2020 are staunch supporters of the neoliberal agenda that calls for public services to “run like a business”, a code phrase that enables them to outsource functions that were previously performed by government employees.

All of which leads to this question: “Why doesn’t the DNC oppose any candidate who supports privatization of public services?” The answer is clear to me: the hedge funders who see an opportunity to profit from privatization have captured both political parties and created a mindset among voters that the marketplace should replace government “monopolies” wherever possible…. and as noted frequently in the past few years, democracy operates differently than business.

A few years ago I heard Lawrence Lessig give a talk at Dartmouth College outlining the ultimate impact of Citizens United. In the talk he noted that the money spent on the campaigns in November was far less important than the money spent in the primary campaigns, for in the primary campaigns smaller donations (or, in the idiom of hedge funders, “investments”), could yield bigger dividends by ensuring that candidates in both parties reflect the will of those who have the most money.  From what we have witnessed to date, it seems that the hedge funders are being rewarded for their “investments” in both political parties.

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