The Republican establishment fights back

Finally, mercifully, they’re beginning to see the light. As always in politics, it’s the money men who are making things happen:

The biggest donors in the Republican Party are financing a new group to recruit seasoned candidates and protect Senate incumbents from challenges by far-right conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts who Republican leaders worry could complicate the party’s efforts to win control of the Senate.

The group, the Conservative Victory Project, is intended to counter other organizations that have helped defeat establishment Republican candidates over the last two election cycles. It is the most robust attempt yet by Republicans to impose a new sense of discipline on the party, particularly in primary races.

“There is a broad concern about having blown a significant number of races because the wrong candidates were selected,” said Steven J. Law, the president of American Crossroads, the “super PAC” creating the new project. “We don’t view ourselves as being in the incumbent protection business, but we want to pick the most conservative candidate who can win.”

The effort would put a new twist on the Republican-vs.-Republican warfare that has consumed the party’s primary races in recent years. In effect, the establishment is taking steps to fight back against Tea Party groups and other conservative organizations that have wielded significant influence in backing candidates who ultimately lost seats to Democrats in the general election.

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Michael Bloomberg’s cash is not welcome here

Today, The Morningside Post published an op-ed* I wrote on New York mayor Michael Bloomberg’s decision to start his own SuperPAC, Independence USA PAC:

Two years ago, when the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that, for the purposes of the First Amendment, corporations were people – a phrase presidential candidate Mitt Romney made famous last year –the floodgates burst to unleash torrents of political campaign advertising. What rendered this decision especially troubling was the fact that these SuperPACs – a category that did not even exist prior to 2010 – are often funded by “dark money,” or unknown financial backers, whose advertisements and other campaign expenditures have already surpassed $400 million during this presidential campaign.

Candidates shuttling back and forth among moneyed patrons and trading away their policymaking autonomy for the chance to blanket Ohio in 30-second TV spots: this is no way to run a democracy. According to the Washington Post, since June of this year, the two candidates have personally attended 176 fundraisers (69 for Obama, 107 for Romney). Republican strategist Karl Rove’s fundraising organization American Crossroads has spent over $63 million in the 2012 election cycle alone, and yet its donor list remains a closely guarded secret.

In the face of this frontal assault on our democratic ideal of “one person, one vote,” Mayor Bloomberg’s attempt to launch political moderates back into the halls of power amounts to little more than a bandage. And it is the worst kind, because it confuses the symptom for the underlying illness: by using the very same funding tactics that helped drive the fringe into the mainstream American political landscape in the first place, Bloomberg’s efforts constitute an implicit endorsement of the post-Citizens United world. But accelerating the funding arms race is not the right long-term approach.

* Edited here only to add spaces after punctuation marks, which were accidentally eliminated in the transition from Microsoft Word to The Morningside Post.