“Money is the Mother’s Milk of politics” “Getting re-elected is the number one priority of every elected official”
Keep these two red letter truths about American politics in mind and the first year of Obama becomes much more understandable. In every Obama initiative, re-aligning campaign money from Republican donors to Democrats was a primary, if little noticed, goal. “Spread the Wealth Around” has more than one meaning to our President.
In the health care “reform” debate, even many insiders have missed the tectonic shift of campaign donations. Traditionally Republican donors in the health care industry have shifted to the Democrats to keep their “place at the table” during negotiations.
According to The Examiner, for example, the invitation for this week’s Capitol Hill fundraiser for “frightened” Massachusetts Democratic Senate candidate Martha Coakley listed 22 co-sponsors, each of whom had pledged at least $10,000 to her campaign to succeed Ted Kennedy. 17 of the co-sponsors are federally registered lobbyists, 15 of these have health care industry clients. Represented are all the leading drug companies (Pfizer, Merck, Amgen, Eli Lilly, Novartis, etc.) and all the leading health insurance companies as well (Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Humana, Signa, Health South, United Health, etc.).
In the TARP bailout of the “too big to fail” banks and insurance companies, Obama went after the Wall Street campaign money that used to go overwhelmingly to Republicans. Well known Republican CEOs were sacked. Obama’s handpicked corporate executives soon repaid the President with lobbying support for his programs and with campaign cash for Democratic candidates. Goldman Sachs was well entrenched in Republican Administrations; It found itself even more favored in this Democratic one. The “fat cats” are now Democrats.
In the bailout of General Motors and Chrysler, Obama achieved many objectives, including payback to the UAW. Also well known and commented on was the evisceration of the corporate bond holders. Little noticed was that those bondholders were overwhelmingly Republican. The (I think illegal and unconstitutional) trampling of bond holders rights sent a clear message to investors that being Republican could cost them their nest egg.
Car dealership networks were selectively purged as well, with many communities noticing that the Republican dealers in town were put out of business and the Democrats saved. In some areas, well known Democrats benefited from consolidation of other (former Republican owned) dealerships into their own. Local car dealers not only were the source of funds for many community events (Boy Scouts, Little League, etc) but also the source of campaign funds largely for Republican candidates, local, state, and national. No more.
The “economic stimulus” bill provided Obama with $787 Billion to further re-align campaign donations. While again Union allies were notoriously repaid with contracts for public works directed their way, other grants and contracts eventually worked their way through state and local government agencies to benefit “minority owned” companies and NGOs (Acorn, for example) that stood with Obama.
While rewarding friends and punishing enemies is a long standing practice in American politics, as with much about Obama and his “Chicago Style”, nothing of this size and scope has ever been attempted before. Obama seeks nothing less than shifting all traditional sources of campaign money for the Republican Party to the Democrats and freely using the power of the Federal Government to accomplish this historic shift.
The Republican Party is feeling the adverse effects of Obama’s efforts. While the party out of power always finds it harder to raise money, the Republican Party this year should be swimming in money reflective of the popular backlash against Obama. It’s not. For two reasons. First the Republicans have yet to overcome the popular perception that they are just as corrupt, and favor Big Government just as much, as the Democrats. Second, while institutional sources of Republican money have been under attack by Obama (as discussed above), the grass roots contributor has been sitting on his and her hands too. The Party that pushed Illegal Alien Amnesty, The Seniors’ Drug Benefit, the Farm Bill, and big Federal deficits is not the Party of the average Republican voter.
The backlash to Obama is finding voice (and campaign cash) from the Tea Party prairie fire. Scott Brown may pull the upset of all time in the race for “Ted Kennedy’s Seat” in the U.S. Senate. Even if Brown loses, he has generated record donations from internet based appeals that have electrified the activist conservative base.
Marco Rubio has overtaken Charlie Crist in the Florida Republican Senate Primary race after starting at single digits in the polls. Again the national conservative activist base has fueled his candidacy in reaction to Obama but also in reaction to the Republican Party establishment.
These are but two examples of a phenomenon that Obama cannot, despite his best efforts, co-opt or marginalize. While the “Community Organizer” President has succeeded in transforming Republican campaign cash sources into Democratic sources at an institutional level, the “community” of common sense, Constitution loving ‘We the People’ Americans are pouring forth in 2010 to restore the America of freedom and opportunity. It’s going to be a great year.