It's time to start cutting the crap on "both parties do it." Let's start with the concept that both parties take money from the same assholes, so they're both equally corrupt.
What set me off on this was the following Tweet, which was posted last night:
RT @MiltShook If you can't see difference btwn 2 parties, you're blind. They're not the same $$ at all | opensecrets.org shows otherwise.
I am just plain sick of this meme that seems to be very popular among the far left “pundits,” that both parties are roughly the same, and are equally corrupt because they both receive money from large corporations. The left wing idiot above, whose Twitter avatar actually depicts a sign reading “I (heart) critical thinking,” might try some, since I am prepared to show that the OpenSecrets.org site shows just the opposite.
What pisses me off about this crap is twofold. One, it poisons the debate, and it makes moderate voters actually think there’s really no difference between voting for a Republican and voting for a Democrat, which generally encourages them to stay home and not vote at all. When turnout is low, the right wing wins.
But more than that, the assertion is absolutely untrue, and lying to push what you perceive as a “progressive” agenda is just as bad as when the right wingnuts lie to push theirs. In fact, it’s actually worse, since they have to lie to make their agenda seem rational, and we have the truth on our side.
Since this person challenged me specifically on campaign contributions via the information at OpenSecrets.org, let’s take a look at some of the more common left wing bullshit stories that are floating around the blogosphere, shall we?
1. Obama got a huge amount of money from Goldman Sachs and other beneficiaries of the financial services bailouts.
I know you’ve heard this one a lot; I hear it at least weekly. The funny thing about this assertion is that it can’t possibly be remotely true, even if you only look at the surface.
Obama for America ran the most incredible campaign financing apparatus I have ever seen, precisely because he raised such an incredible amount of money WITHOUT huge contributions from donors with an agenda. For some reason, facts have gotten lost in some quarters, but I'm happy to restore facts to the debate.
Check out this list of the top donors to the Obama campaign. As you look at it, consider that Obama raised more than $765 million, and he had more than $15 million left over after the election. How much pull do you think the million dollars from Goldman Sachs, which amounts to 0.13% of all Obama donations, had on the new president? If your boss at your $50,000 a year job gave you a $65 bonus at the end of the year (0.13% of your salary), would you call him a hero or a cheapskate?
But more importantly, if anyone would bother to read the page, instead of simply looking at the numbers, they would find this at the top of it. (Pay particular interest to the bold and red print, since that’s why they put it in bold and in red):
This table lists the top donors to this candidate in the 2008 election cycle. The organizations themselves did not donate , rather the money came from the organization's PAC, its individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals' immediate families. Organization totals include subsidiaries and affiliates.
Because of contribution limits, organizations that bundle together many individual contributions are often among the top donors to presidential candidates. These contributions can come from the organization's members or employees (and their families). The organization may support one candidate, or hedge its bets by supporting multiple candidates. Groups with national networks of donors - like EMILY's List and Club for Growth - make for particularly big bundlers.
In other words, if you have EVER given money to a political campaign, you know that you have to list your employer on your donation. Your donation obviously isn’t coming from your employer, but on this list, it would look that way.
(By the way, I think bundling should be illegal. But even if the amount was bundled, which OpenSecrets.org is saying may or may not have happened, it's not enough to influence much of anything.)
If you look at the summary of Obama’s 2008 contributions, you’ll note than 88% of contributions came from INDIVIDUALS. That dovetails nicely with the assertion above, that many of the Goldman Sachs contributions probably came from individuals who just happened to work for Goldman Sachs, and not Goldman Sachs themselves.
In other words, the assertion that ANY company gave Obama a shitload of money to buy some sort of influence is actually nicely refuted by the actual numbers.
2. Democrats and Republicans BOTH get a lot/most of their money from the same sources, thus making both parties corrupt.
The first problem with evaluating this is the same one we have above. You can’t simply look at “industries,” because these are the “industries” donors listed when they donated to a campaign. That means, a secretary who just happens to work at Goldman Sachs would be listed as a contribution from the “Securities and Investment” industry, even though she may only be working there to get herself through college, where she’s studying social work.
Critical thinkers would be able to figure this out. I could have just as easily gone to this chart, which compares the candidates' top donors, but it's essentially meaningless, because it simply refers to the companies donors work for, not the companies themselves.
So, let’s go to 2012, and see who the top donors are so far, and to which party they’re donating. If you can look at that chart and find much in the way of equivalence between the two parties, then you have no idea what you’re looking at. Yes, there are a few companies/industries that are hedging their bets, such as Comcast and General Electric. But look more closely. The only donors who are overwhelmingly supporting Democrats are labor unions. On the other hand, the industries supporting the Republicans exclusively represent fossil fuels industries, especially the oil industry, the financial services industry and the insurance industry (gee, why would insurance companies love Republicans?) Even Berkshire Hathaway has given mostly to Republicans so far, which Warren Buffet might want to look at.
The list includes TRT Holdings, which is an oil industry lobbying group, Chartwell Partners, which is an executive recruitment firm based in Texas both of which top the list, with 100% of the money going to the GOP, and Koch Industries, which, though the left wing blogs obsess over them, sits at only #44 on the list.
3. Huge corporations have an inordinate financial influence over BOTH parties, making both parties corrupt.
This one is absurd.
Start by looking at this chart. In the 2008 election cycle, the number one donor, by far, was the National Education Association (NEA), giving teachers far more influence than any other single company or industry in the country. In fact, the only industry group to crack the top 10 was the National Association of Realtors, and the only companies to crack the top 20 were Pacific Gas & Electric at #13 and AT&T at #17. In an election cycle in which billions were spend, none of these numbers is frightening, anyway.
(Just as an aside, ActBlue came in at #10, with more than $23 million, and spent ALL of the money on national elections. This demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the political system, as the way to build a progressive base is through small state elections first. This reminds me of the Green Party strategy, which was to start with the presidency and work down. That worked well, didn’t it?)
But if we’re to believe that money is the key to democracy (it’s not, really), then it’s clear from this chart that teachers and tribal casino operations have far more influence than anyone else, right?
Unions have a huge influence over the Democratic Party, as the chart I used in #3 showed, while the major influence over the Republican Party would seem to be the oil, insurance and financial services industries. These are not equal to me; are they equal to you? The greatest influence over the system, if we’re to believe this concept, is teachers, which actually explains why Republicans are always trying to undermine education.
But the absurdity of the concept that both parties are the same is just absolutely blown away by this chart at OpenSecrets.org, which shows who the heavy hitters are over the last 10 election cycles. Look at it closely, and realize that the people who are telling you we've become a corporatist state have NO idea what they're talking about.
There’s a reason why Republicans are always union-busting, folks, and this chart shows why. Unions have a HUGE amount of influence over the campaign finance system, and most of their money goes to Democrats. Meanwhile, while a few corporations hedge their bets, supporting both parties equally, MOST of them lean toward the GOP with their contributions. ExxonMobil, Chevron, Wal-Mart the NRA and Koch Industries give almost all of their contributions to Republicans, while the NEA, Teamsters, IBEW and AFL-CIO give most of their contributions to Democrats.
Does that really seem the same to you?
If you're going to claim you "heart" critical thinking, you might try some sometime.