Dark Money

The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right

by Jane Mayer

Doubleday, 2016

DarkMoneyCoverJane Mayer’s book was recommended by Naomi Klein when she spoke at USC’s Visions and Voices last February, so I read it.  I do pretty much everything Naomi Klein tells me to do.

Dark Money is a compelling, enlightening, but extremely depressing book.  It explains, in as much detail as Mayer’s research has been able to fathom, the inexplicable dysfunction that has come to dominate our national and state politics, especially since the election of Barack Obama in 2008 and the Supreme Court’s abominable decision on Citizens United barely a year after he took office.

Dark Money explains how the Republican Party has lost control of politics, but deserve what they are getting because they invited the support of the Koch brothers, and others like them, into the Party.  It explains why Congress opposes policies that are supported by a majority of Americans and supports policies the majority opposes.  In a word, the will of the majority has been preempted by the cascade of money dumped into our political system by the wealthy.  It also explains why House Speaker John Boehner ultimately gave up his position and resigned from Congress; his caucus was simply out of control, beholden to any number of wealthy donors, each with their own self-serving agendas.

Frighteningly, dark money has also infiltrated our colleges and universities, funding economics programs and academic courses espousing unregulated free market capitalism.

The collapse of the Republican Party – dare we hope? – would be highly gratifying, except for the fact that the concept of functional federal and state governments that actually serve their citizens will probably collapse along with them.

Dark Money reveals, in gory detail, that the Koch brothers and their influence are even worse than we thought. They are greedy ideologues with too much money, using their power to impose their will on the entire United States of America.  It’s of little importance whether they really believe that their libertarian views are what is best for America (I doubt it).  The point is that no one or two men – or even a “handful of billionaires” – should be able to decide what is best for a nation of 300 million people.  Sadly, this is what our politics have come to.

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