In this predictably difficult year for the Democrats, the party of the people is turning, of all people, to its plutocrats. However much the party stigmatizes right-wing billionaires like the Koch brothers, a growing proportion of America’s ultra-rich have become devoted Democrats, giving them an edge in fund-raising. Indeed, an analysis of billionaire contributors this year by Politifact found that 13 supported liberals while only nine backed Republicans.
The left plutocracy helps explain how Harry Reid’s Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has greatly outraised their Republican rivals. Overall, Democratic-aligned committees have achieved a lopsided edge in fundraising – $453 million opposed to $289 million, according to Politico. Overall, the top three donors to the political Super PACs this year all lean to the left.
Democrats counter that many Republican groups, notably the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity, generally don’t reveal their finances. But as the New York Times’ Tom Edsall notes, “Liberals do the same, and the press in large part gives them a pass.” He points particularly to the “Democracy Alliance,” a conglomerate of some 100 very rich donors who contribute some $30 million annually to progressive organizations and causes.
All this reflects a changing class system far more nuanced than the overworked meme about the “1 percent” arrayed against the toiling masses. Instead, we have a plutocracy increasingly divided, mostly along regional and industry lines, among themselves. It’s no surprise voters, notes columnist John Kass, are confused by this recent headline in the Chicago Tribune: “Obama decries income inequality in speech after $50,000-a-person fundraiser for Quinn.”