It was a banner week for money in politics on both sides of this year's presidential race.
Mitt Romney was talking like a Rootstriker, telling NBC's Brian Williams at the Education Nation forum that:
"We simply can't have" elected officials who have received large contributions from teachers sitting across from them at the bargaining table.
Sounds about right, but we have to ask: does this apply equally to the Wall Street bankers who are floating your campaign?
Meanwhile, the Democrats are finally wising up to the SuperPAC game. Wealthy donors are coming out of the woodwork for the Dems to help push their candidate over the finish line.
Here's how Romney described the problem of money in politics:
"the person sitting across the table from [the teachers] should not have received the largest campaign contribution from the teachers union themselves ... [It's] an extraordinary conflict of interest and something that should be addressed."
"I think it's a mistake," Romney added. We wholeheartedly agree, but...
My mother was a teacher and she never had much extra cash to sprinkle on her favored politicians. Come to think of it, I never heard her talk much about politics at all as a kid, she was probably too busy educating her students and raising a family to give it much thought. The average teacher salary in the U.S. is about $40k; it would take a donation the size of the full annual salaries of 2500 teachers to match the $100 million in pledged contributions of just one casino magnate, Sheldon Adelson, to the Republican effort to take back the White House.
Talk about false equivalences.
Sadly it's clear that the Democrats have no choice but to combat the influx of outside money flooding Republican coffers with SuperPAC cash of their own. We're now faced with a cold war of sorts in the money game, aptly noted by Andrew Rosethal in the New York Times editorial Mutually Assured Donations:
"After months of watching super-rich Republicans open their checkbooks to super PACs, which pretend to be independent groups to get around limits on political donations, Democrats are finally seeing some of their own supporters anteing up."
“The donations can speak for themselves.” said James Simons, a Long Island investor and philanthropist, who has given over $2 million to Priorities USA Action, Obama's top SuperPAC, and $2 million more to allied groups. Sadly he's got a point, as money now constitutes free speech in America.
So here we stand, eight weeks out from election day 2012, and the tiniest slice of the 1% are opening their wallets to buy your votes for their favored candidate. It's sick, it's corrupt, it's undermining our democracy, and both parties are guilty: "...between Mr. Adelson’s tens of millions and Mr. Simons’ $2 million, there’s only a difference of degree."