While the New York Times ridiculed Sarah Palin’s speech endorsing Donald Trump yesterday as “mystifying,” a big portion of it was a non-mysterious, coherent attack on big money politics. It’s worth reading that whole portion:
[Trump] is beholden to no one but we the people. …
Trump, what he’s been able to do, which is really ticking people off, which I’m glad about, he’s going rogue left and right, man. That’s why he’s doing so well. …
The permanent political class has been doing the bidding of their campaign donor class and that’s why you see that the borders are kept open. For them, for their cheap labor that they want to come in. That’s why they’ve been bloating budgets. It’s for crony capitalists to be able to suck off of them. It’s why we see these lousy trade deals that gut our industry for special interests elsewhere.
We need someone new, who has the power, and is in the position to bust up that establishment. …
His candidacy, which is a movement. It’s a force. It’s a strategy. It proves, as long as the politicos, they get to keep their titles and their perks and their media ratings. They don’t really care who wins elections. …
And the proof of this? Look what’s happening today. Our own GOP machine, the establishment, they who would assemble the political landscape, they’re attacking their own frontrunner. …
We, you, a diverse dynamic, needed support base that they would attack. And now, some of them even whispering, they’re ready to throw in for Hillary over Trump because they can’t afford to see the status quo go. Otherwise, they won’t be able to be slurping off the gravy train that’s been feeding them all these years. They don’t want that to end.
Trump himself has repeatedly condemned politicians’ servitude toward their big donors. During the first GOP debate last August in Cleveland, he declared, “I was a businessman. I give to everybody. When they call, I give. And do you know what? When I need something from them two years later, three years later, I call them, they are there for me. And that’s a broken system.”
Palin and Trump may or may not believe what they’re saying. As Laura Friedenbach, press secretary of the campaign finance reform organization Every Voice, points out, “Every single Republican presidential candidate, including Donald Trump, has so far failed to offer” any concrete plan to reduce the influence of money in politics.
However, they’re responding to a genuine passion among Republicans. A 2015 New York Times poll found that 80 percent of Republicans believe “money has too much influence” in political campaigns, and 81 percent feel the campaign finance system needs either “fundamental changes” or must be completely rebuilt. A recent survey by Democracy Corps found that 66 percent of likely Republican voters support a program of public matching funds for small donors. Among Republican candidates such a program would be an enormous boon to Ben Carson and Ted Cruz (and less so to Trump, since his campaign is almost completely self-financed).
Palin did, however, inaccurately differentiate the Democratic and Republican establishments, claiming that Democratic powerbrokers would never “come after their frontrunner and her supporters … because they don’t eat their own. They don’t self-destruct.” In fact, the Democratic party elite has previously attempted to destroy its own presidential candidate, most notoriously in 1972 when new primary rules allowed George McGovern to capture the nomination; as a Richard J. Daley ward heeler predicted that fall, McGovern was “gonna lose because we’re gonna make sure he’s gonna lose.” And if Bernie Sanders genuinely threatens Hillary Clinton, Democratic establishment attacks on him as a “socialist” with “wackadoodle” ideas will surely intensify, for exactly the reason Palin identified: “They can’t afford to see the status quo go.”
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- Forty Years of Democrats Talking About How Much They Want to Get Money Out of Politics
- Obama Could Fix Dark Money, But Would Rather Just Yell at Republicans About It