Ezra Klein. Just a reminder; I do hope that there’s nobody in the congregation today to whom this counts as news.
To think clearly about the overriding importance of money in campaigns, consider the degree to which politicians will court political disaster in order to raise a few more bucks. A couple of weeks ago, Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn took some time out of bashing bank bailouts to meet with a bunch of Wall Street executives. Democrats reacted with glee, and have hammered the Republicans for the meetings ever since. “McConnell won’t provide details of Wall Street meeting,” read one recent DNC press release.
And then you read this:
While Democrats push Wall Street regulations on the Senate floor, Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) will head to Manhattan on Monday for a fundraiser with deep-pocketed donors who have ties to the financial industry.
According to an invitation obtained by POLITICO, the fundraiser is billed as a “political discussion” for those who want to contribute up to $10,000 for Gillibrand’s reelection campaign and spend Monday evening with the two Democratic senators.
Democrats know exactly how politically dangerous it is to raise funds on Wall Street right now. But they’re doing it anyway. Both parties, in fact, know the risks and are choosing to take the hit rather than forgo the cash. This isn’t because they love being attacked or even think that the toxicity of Wall Street is overstated. It’s because, to use a metaphor that’s in vogue right now, our system of campaign finance turns politicians into vampire squids wrapped around the wallets of the rich, relentlessly jamming their blood funnels into anything that smells like money.