Being a casino mogul doesn’t make you any good at betting. Case in point: multi-billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who spent a fortune this year bankrolling Republican candidates and right-wing super PACs.
The conservative Uncle Pennybags spent somewhere in the ballpark of $150 million on the election, the Huffington Post reported Monday.
There are island nations with smaller Gross Domestic Products.
One has to wonder whether Adelson’s extravagant political contributions were money well spent. After all, Mitt Romney lost, despite having Adelson on hand to act as his personal gem-studded ATM.
In a post for The Monkey Cage called “Why Money Still Matters”, Lee Drutman explained why Adelson’s failure does not mean the days of mega-donor spending are over.
“As long as candidates believe money matters and raise it in ever-greater sums, big donors will have ever-greater influence and leverage,” Drutman said.
In other words, the Republican Party will remain the Adelson party—as well as the Koch party, the Goldman Sachs party, and so forth—for some time to come. Arguably, Adelson has far more influence within the party than either its most recent presidential candidates or its most recent president. (Remember George W. Bush?)
That’s doubly true since 2012’s Democrat-friendly results took a lot of the steam out of the anti-super PAC movement. Just one day after the election, Kevin Drum—whose employer, Mother Jones, has covered the post-Citizens United campaign spending badlands as aggressively as anyone—declared, “it may turn out that Citizens United isn’t the end of Western civilization after all.”
Drum’s probably right for that; if we limit ourselves to being concerned about things that will bring about the extinction of Western civilization, then super PACs don’t make the cut. But surely the fact that a handful of mega-plutocrats can dump billions of dollars into a party’s money machine should worry us, even when that party has a bad year regardless. In 2012 we found out that Sheldon Adelson is not a god; but mere mortals can still have too much power.