By Robert Maynard
The left seems to have a blind spot when it comes to big money in politics as long as that money serves the purpose of expanding the power of the state. Billionaires who put their money behind such causes are seen by those on the left as acting unselfishly in the service of a noble cause, so that money is not decried as corrupting the democratic process. After all, at least they are not seeking tax breaks for themselves. The problem is that money is usually the means to an end and not the end itself. According to the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, all of human striving is driven by a “will to power.” Here is how he put it in “Beyond Good and Evil”: “The desire for distinction is the desire to dominate others even if it be merely in an indirect fashion one felt or even only dreamt of.”
The best way to gain control over others is to expand the one institution that has a monopoly of legal control over the citizens. The best way to do that is to expand the reach of government into as many areas as possible so that most political decisions of consequence are made by an army of unelected, administrative bureaucracies, which are not accountable to the voters. The clincher is to convince the public that this is being done for the “public good” and that anyone opposing this agenda is doing so merely out of selfishness.
One example of the progressive blind spot when it comes to money in politics can be seen in the recent push to impeach President Trump. A recent Daily Caller article details the effort by several Democrats to initiate impeachment proceedings: “A group of six Democratic House members introduced articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump Wednesday, claiming the president has violated federal law, the public trust and should be charged with high crimes and misdemeanors.”
As the article points out, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is not supportive of this move. This should come as no surprise, as Trump’s approval ratings are at record lows and the backlash against him is reviving the left in the way that the backlash against Nixon did. Here is an L.A. Times artilcle that lays out the Democratic leadership case against launching impeachment proceeding against Trump. So, if the pressure to impeach Trump is not coming from Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership, who is it coming from?
Enter Tom Steyer, a hedge fund billionaire and perhaps the biggest donor to progressive causes. In the 2014 elections alone he donated more than 10 times as much money to the political campaign as the two Koch brothers combined. Mr. Steyer has funded a campaign to push for the start of impeachment proceedings.
That campaign featured an ad that was analyzed by an online progressive news site called “The Young Turks.” It is one of the fastest growing liberal sites on the Internet and the backlash against Trump has been a real gift for it when it comes to viewers and donors. The site’s biggest beef is with money in politics, which is why it is so noteworthy that its hosts treated Steyer’s campaign with grudging admiration. At the 4:07 mark to the 4:22 mark, reporter Francesca Fiorentini talks about how effective the ad was and how powerful the “steel-blue eyes” were. From the 5:05 mark to the 5:45 mark, host Cenk Uygur talks about how effective putting the ad on Fox and Friends was, and adds the obligatory comment that it was good because he was not pushing for something selfish like tax cuts.
Watch the segments here:
Robert Maynard writes a column for True North Reports. He lives in Williston, Vermont.