CNBC's Robert Frank writes a nice critique and analysis of the study I reference and calls attention to the fact that for every right wing rich guy promoting schemes that Democrats abhor, there's probably a wealthy leftie advocating the opposite. As Frank notes, for every Koch there's a Buffett. I'd add that for every George Soros there's a Sheldon Adelson--and I'd probably be able to match Big Rich Lib with Big Rich Rightie for as long as necessary to make the point. Weiland's mentor Tom Daschle generally raised millions for his senatorial campaigns here in South Dakota and I don't recall Weiland or any other Democrats bemoaning the influence of Big Money when it suited their party's purposes back then. So what changed? Just the fact that Weiland hasn't been able to scare up 7-figure totals for his campaign now is about all I can see [John Tsitrian, "The Problem with Populism, Rick Weiland Style," The Constant Commoner, 2014.04.22].
Frank's critique rests on a lot of always:
- "...it's misleading to say the wealthy always get what they want
- "Our evidence does not indicate that in U.S. policymaking, the average citizen always loses out."
- "But the notion of the rich always shaping policies at the expense of the rest of the country is simply misleading."
- "...what [the rich] want is not always so different from the rest of America."
That response to charges of oligarchy drowning democracy is somewhat like saying evolution doesn't happen because less well-adapted organisms don't always miss out on the chance to reproduce. Sure, slow frogs get to lay eggs, too, but over time, more slow frogs get eaten, and fast frogs dominate the frogosphere.
Saying that rich people don't always win or even that there are rich people with competing interests (and I'd like a breakdown of how often the Soroses and Steyers beat the Kochs and Adelsons) does not change the fundamental critique that the interests of the vast majority of Americans either are not being heard or at best are only heard coincidentally. I don't want coincidental democracy. I don't want oligarchy masquerading as democracy. I want honest, functional democracy, where voices are heard and decisions are made by head count, not bank account.