POLITICS

Please Spare A Thought For The Real Victims Of The McCutcheon Decision

04/03/2014 04:07 pm ET | Updated Apr 03, 2014
Phil Roeder via Getty Images

The Supreme Court's latest decision in McCutcheon v. FEC continues the long process of deforming our once-thought-to-be-timeless experiment in "We the people"-style representation into a new system where twitchy billionaires and corporo sapiens essentially dominate the political discourse. Free speech is still free, of course, but the political sphere is moving, more and more rapidly, to a Premium Speech model in which the barrier to entry is the possession of stacks and stacks of hundred-dollar bills. Non-oligarchic, human Americans are still encouraged to "take it to the streets," where I hear "free speech" pairs quite nicely with pepper spray.

Of course, this picture I've painted actually leaves out the people who are, in fact, the True Victims of the McCutcheon decision. Fortunately for everyone, Politico has found these sorrowful creatures, so let us hear their lamentations and allow ourselves to be moved to pity:

The biggest Washington donors used to have a great excuse to keep their wallets closed when fundraisers came knocking: Sorry, I’m maxed out.

But a Supreme Court ruling swiped that line from them Wednesday when the justices tossed a rule that limited how much an individual can give to candidates, party committees and PACs.

Oh, you sneering wretches! When the McCutcheon decision came down, did you even spend a minute contemplating the awful fate of the wealthy donors who can no longer use, "Shucks, I've spent all I'm allowed to spend, sorry," as an excuse to not spend more money? Now, they run the risk of not being thought as serious as other, more deep-pocketed donors. And what is the point of being in the top one percent if the vagaries of our laissez-faire campaign finance laws ultimately do nothing but expose the fact that many of these people are part of the lesser nine-tenths of this one percent?

Their voices need to be heard:

“I’m horrified, planning to de-list my phone number and destroy my email address,” said [lobbyist] Ken Kies, who, along with his wife, has bumped up against the federal political contribution limits. “What I was really hoping for is a ban on lobbyists making contributions entirely.”

Too late does Ken Kies learn that perhaps "a ban on lobbyists making contributions entirely" should have been the "quo" upon which he "pro"-ed his "quid"! Now it is too late. He must delete his email account, like a common peasant.

Oh, let's hear from lobbyist Tony Podesta:

Podesta said for those donors, the new rule “eliminates an excuse that people have to say I’m done for the cycle and I can’t do anymore, which means that people who do max out will end up giving more money than they used to to candidates.”

If you detect a note of passivity -- the idea being that none of these people actually has a choice in all of this -- well, it's pretty consistent. Another big-money donor-type human, David DesJardins, shows up in the piece saying that the McCutcheon decision will "significantly increase my giving to candidates," while simultaneously stating that the decision will be "bad for democracy."

You know, if only there were some elegant solution to this conundrum! But there isn't:

“At this time in the cycle many lobbyists have hit or are quickly approaching the federal max,” said David Thomas of Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti. “This decision is like getting to the end of the Marine Corps Marathon and being told you have to run it again.”

You know what most people would say if, at the end of the Marine Corps Marathon, they were asked to run it again? "No." They would say, "No."

We reached out to a few lobbyists ourselves, and we must travel in lower-class circles, because most we talked to said they were more worried about the individual limits -- one Congresscritter getting to ask for $50,000 or some such -- because they don't get near the current $100,000-plus aggregate contribution cap themselves. But one extra-partisan GOP lobbyist we talked to had found the silver lining in the Supreme Court cloud.

"In '06 and '08, I would have dreaded spending more money on losing campaigns. But this year, it will be money well spent. I'm excited," he said.

So there's that. Nevertheless, I guess what we've learned -- and what all you commoners perhaps can't appreciate -- is that there is no greater disadvantage in life than having all the advantages. Thanks for opening my eyes to this, Politico.

READ THE WHOLE THING:
Big donors fear shakedown after decision [Politico]

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