In most election years, American voters tend to ignore the ongoing scandal of our campaign finance system, which encourages legalized bribery and domination by the wealthy. The reforming impulse comes later, as it did following the re-election of Richard Nixon 40 years ago, when the money-laundering, extortion, and payoffs of Watergate were revealed.
This year may yet prove an exception, as the Republican Party nominates a plutocratic capitalist for president and fills various war-chests with filthy lucre that could ultimately amount to a cool billion dollars. The surging flood of dark money from Wall Street bankers, casino moguls, insurance executives, and corporate malefactors of every sort is beginning to arouse suspicion among ordinary citizens – who have also started to wonder what Mitt Romney really did as a businessman and why he still won’t release his tax returns.
Before these populist themes achieve political traction, the Republicans must invent an argument explaining why their overwhelming financial advantage and corrupting secrecy don’t matter. Resentful of media scrutiny as always – especially when they have something awful to hide – the GOP pundits and politicians will insist that stories about their dubious benefactors (see Adelson, Sheldon and Simmons, Harold, among others) are biased because the Democrats are raising big money from big donors, too.
If you ask who the Republicans (including Adelson himself) are talking about, the name they always mention is George Soros, the Hungarian-born billionaire financier who is indeed one of the richest men in the country and, by party affiliation and ideology, a Democrat. Slandered repeatedly by Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh – who have done very little to advance free thought and free markets around the world compared with the Soros philanthropies – he has been transformed into a demonic figure on the far right strictly for partisan purposes.