September 8, 2016 - Jane Mayer

September 8, 2016
Jane Mayer

Y’know how they say, sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees, here’s what they mean. If you look at the trees you can see that even if they are 100 of the 200 richest people in America, even when they throw a collective half a billion to some estimate, almost $900 million into trying to win elections, they win some and they lose some. But if you look at the political forest, you’ll see that the radical right of the radically rich has changed the whole environment.

Let me frame up for you a picture of America’s political forest. On the left, whole sections have been burned down, like the careers of liberal office-holders who lost elections since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010. Moving towards the center, the forest has been noticeably thinned. Many “moderate” trees are missing. No such gaps appear as you continue to move your eyes rightward, until on the right-wing of the political forest there’s a mighty crop of new growth trees, many of them dressed up as Tea Partiers. This new forest tells a story much more important than the win-some/lose-some trees.

It is a story of game-changing definititude.

Talking is one of those zero-sum games. When somebody is talking, it’s hard for anyone else to be heard. And Citizens United made sure that when mega-money talked it could effectively drown out all the other voices in the room.  And since 2010, mega-money, literally hundreds of millions of dollars coughed up by 100 or so very, very rich people – almost all of them White Men – has shaped the results, if not in Presidential elections, of races for the Senate and Congress, and for Governorships and state legislative seats across the country.  A lot of that shaping is being expressed in the crude shouting of racist, sexist, and hyper-nationalist scapegoating and blame-shedding that has defined the 2016 Republican Presidential campaign.

No one has done a more persistent, penetrating, understanding job of reporting the political story of our times than our guest today, Jane Mayer, author of the new book Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right.

Reading Room

Jane Mayer, Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, Doubleday

“What Happened to Jane Mayer When She Wrote About the Koch Brothers” – The New York Times

“Covert Operations” – The New Yorker

“Paul Ryan Faces Tea Party Forces That He Helped Unleash” – The New York Times

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