Other Words - August 26, 2019

This August, a phony controversy erupted over wealthy donors to President Trump’s campaign and political action committee being publicly named.

After Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) tweeted the names of San Antonio contributors who’d made large donations to support Trump, some reported receiving angry phone calls. A few residents said they would boycott businesses tied to the donors.

Now, the New York Times reported, “Republicans have accused the congressman of ‘doxxing’ private citizens and trying to incite harassment of the president’s supporters.”

Of course, campaign contributions are publicly available information. And it’s beyond elitist for wealthy donors to a president who openly incites violence and hate to complain of “harassment” when they face criticism.

Under this administration, entire communities have faced traumatizing harassment — including in the form of white supremacist violence in El Paso and elsewhere. Compared to that, or to a child ripped from their parents and caged, what’s an angry phone call?

Beyond this, the episode points to a longer-standing issue: the massive amounts of money sloshing around our political system.

For the 2016 presidential election alone (not counting the primaries), campaigns and outside groups raised a staggering $2.1 billion. The average cost of a campaign for a House seat is about $1 million, and for a Senate seat it runs into the tens of millions.

Where does all this money come from? Often from corporations and their trade associations, and from wealthy individuals, like the late billionaire David Koch, and their networks. In the 2016 cycle, the oil and gas industry alone contributed $113 million to campaigns and outside groups.

It’s either naive or willfully disingenuous to think that this staggering amount of money comes with no strings attached. ...
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