How Billionaire Oligarchs Are Becoming Their Own Political Parties

Is the Florida governor’s race a campaign between a Democrat and a Republican or a battle between Tom Steyer and the Koch brothers?
Read the full story »

I live in Alaska, where Begich (D) is hoping to retain his Senate seat against challenger Sullivan (R). I've been receiving expensive heavy glossy-stock ads practically every day lately from some group I can't even identify, supporting Sullivan. The place is absolutely flooded with outside money, and it makes me despair because I have essentially no voice. There is no amount of money I could spend -- because I simply don't have it -- that would get 1% of the volume of these outside groups (all anonymous, of course).

32 2018-10-16 22:48:15 - mbs

In response to the headline: Of course they are! And we, the People, let them. Why? Because too many of us have bought into the idea that public institutions have no business administering (or regulating) electoral contests for public office. We're made to fear politicized administration by one party and therefore accept a privatized electoral system that evicerates both parties. Nothing in between. No equivalent of a non-politicized agency to at least set federal rules for federal office. Only there's a problem. When one party of a two party system embraces privatization as a guiding principle, there's no means or incentive for the other party NOT to play that game without simply being outspent and therefore out-messaged by the other. In such a system, the only winners are those who spend $$ expecting quid pro quo in public policy. Hey, we're not expecting billionaires to be more saintly than popes, are we? The voters are unhappy being unhitched from policy. Government becomes subservient to donors. And the entire political system becomes unhinged. The solution? Something, anything, in between. Example: Allow the money, but remove the iron paycheck to for-profit media. Require FCC license renewals to include free or cost-reduced airtime for public office campaigning. Correspondingly, expand C-SPAN to a 4th channel that operates at least one feed/studio in every state that has no other function but to air campaign materials for public office and air debates.

1 2018-02-05 01:43:36 - Citixen

Bias much? this is just partisan hackery. There is an election next month; they are going to lose and are all in a tizzy over it. But its been building for years and now they will reap the results of their arrogant disdain for the American voter.

0 2017-07-19 10:45:19 - Concerned Citizen

Rich Scott is a total waste of time. What a joke the fan was...Florida, take a good look @ yourself.

9 2017-07-05 14:15:06 - kilika

If liberals work together, it's because they are working for virtuous ends. If conservatives work together, it is based on their evil intentions. Got it?

1 2017-06-22 10:54:39 - ebmem

Perhaps I'm a bit jaded, but what these "oligarchs" - whether liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican - really want is the protection of their own wealth, regardless of which candidate or party wins.

That's why so many of today's Democratic politicians are "wall street/corporate" Democrats - socially liberal, but essentially otherwise conservative. And that's why many "traditional" Democrats those like FDR, Truman, LBJ etc., are now branded as liberal/leftist.

The politics and policies of both parties have shifted rightward on economic, tax and related issues. That was the inevitable result of the excessive and largely unfettered campaign funding, described in this article.

6 2017-05-07 05:16:29 - Anthony N

I've heard that Steyer wants to help the Democratic challenger, Tom Wolf, here in Pennsylvania, but I'm not really seeing it. For one thing, Wolf doesn't seem to need his help beating Gov. Corbett, the incumbent. Beyond that, it seems that it would backfire since voters, especially outside of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, would mostly be resentful of a California billionaire sticking his moneyed nose into our state's business.

0 2017-04-13 18:39:06 - T

money in campaigns just might be less of an issue as time goes on. people are becoming angrier with each passing day with the constant bombardment of political ads and simply turning them off the moment they appear - sort of like the ads for Rx.

personally - i'm on my second remote device this season.

1 2017-03-31 22:32:44 - bob lesch

It's really too bad that the Supreme Court voted to allow rich people to buy elections. Talk about judicial activism. There it is, and not on behalf of ordinary folks; on behalf of the obscenely rich.

8 2017-03-11 21:04:12 - CML

When do we get our country back?

3 2017-03-08 17:40:16 - NYTReader

How billionaire oligarchs are becoming their own political parties? They already control both the Republican and Democratic Parties. Becoming their own parties would seem a redundant effort. Indeed, political parties are mere window dressing for the reality that the entire political class in this country are wholly owned subsidiaries of the oligarchs. The people are presented with no real choices when the elections come around. The best one can hope for in any election is that one candidate is slightly less evil than the other.

29 2017-02-19 21:12:56 - Che Beauchard

Agree, there has been false equivalencies allowed for way too long, and I blame the "journalists" and talking tv "heads who lack the courage to challenge the "talking points". They dig for one example of a democrat doing what most repubs are guilty of. The goal is to get to the truth.

3 2017-02-16 02:30:36 - Marylee

I know one day Justice Roberts will acknowledge the mistake he made.

0 2017-02-15 13:40:11 - Smohan

And Scott thinks its a good business plan to bilk medicare.

22 2017-02-03 06:00:20 - Rainflowers

You're absolutely wrong, the decision was 5-4 on Citizens United. Check your facts before posting.

0 2017-01-19 08:32:42 - Troi

Lincoln's warning has come to pass; government of the people, by the people, for the people has indeed perished, replaced instead by government of, by and for the corporations -- and the obscenely wealthy.

Perhaps it is only a matter of time before the answer to the question, "What do you think of the United States?" will be, "It was a nice idea."

6 2017-01-05 02:05:52 - AJ North

An unfortunate flaw in the concept of American democracy is that it assumes a population of rational voters who are motivated to vote in the collective interests of the nation. In fact voters are more likely to act out of emotion and concern for themselves. Furthermore "hate, fear..." and other negative emotions are most influential.

With millions of voters eligible to participate in American democracy, candidates face a daunting task in making themselves known. The solution: mass communications, and with it, the techniques of mass marketing. Here the medium is the message. Television, and to a slightly lesser the Internet, with their capability to deliver short, simple messaging and intense, powerful imagery, are by far the best ways to not only promote candidates but to motivate emotional voters to act.

Add to it Citizens United for legal support of unlimited funding, and voila! Billionaires able to buy television and Internet media, and the most sophisticated marketing talent, are able to move the emotional masses toward any objectives they fancy. The billionaires benefit, as do the media corporations and the politicians. Any benefit to the citizens is incidental at best.

This is the system. This is how billionaires have become their own political parties. How to stop them is unclear.

10 2017-01-01 16:20:46 - entity.z

Well. let's see: Kennedy, Alito, Scalia, Sotomayor, Roberts, Thomas. Yup, that looks about right. So - six out of nine. Yup, that is a clear majority.

Maybe you need to brush up on your "looking up" skills. Because you're clearly not cutting it here.

1 2016-12-17 18:11:38 - bleurose

Hard to believe so many people are duped by these Koch brothers into thinking that their interests are the same as the average Joe. They bankroll every political cretin across the country to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, yet they would howl like toddlers if you raised their tax bill by a centimeter to adequately fund a government that works for everyone. Despite their philanthropy, these guys are lousy citizens and the comparison with Mr Steyer is insulting.

90 2016-12-04 12:55:41 - RP Smith

Australia is a democracy and they have strict election laws. The two are not mutually exclusive.

0 2016-12-04 11:35:49 - Ann

Post to How Billionaire Oligarchs Are Becoming Their Own Political Parties (login required)

5VW to Pay $1.2 Billion to U.S. Dealers Hurt by Diesel Scandal33Demise of the Southern Democrat Is Now Nearly Complete799Inequality Is a Drag957A Scourge Is Spreading. M.T.A.’s Cure? Dude, Close Your Legs.489The Wolf Hunters of Wall Street1194Living Wages, Rarity for U.S. Fast-Food Workers, Served Up in Denmark989The Battle for New York Schools: Eva Moskowitz vs. Mayor Bill de Blasio104The Profits-Investment Disconnect580U.S. to Commit Up to 3,000 Troops to Fight Ebola in Africa245Living on Purpose409Staten Island Man Died From Chokehold During Arrest, Autopsy Finds355Poor Sanitation in India May Afflict Well-Fed Children With Malnutrition775After Losing Scottish Independence Vote, Alex Salmond Will Resign323How Billionaire Oligarchs Are Becoming Their Own Political Parties1Cambodians Gather to Pray, Offer Gifts for 'Killing Fields' Dead1338The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food108My Selfie, Myself1457Children and Guns: The Hidden Toll374A Political Crystal Ball219An Affair to Remember, Differently52Live Updates: Aftermath of Grand Jury's Decision in Michael Brown Shooting in Ferguson1511Shooting Accounts Differ as Holder Schedules Visit to Ferguson101Teenagers Stand Up to Backpage4380A Plea for Caution From Russia818How Obama Lost America334Death by Data281In Florida Student Assaults, an Added Burden on Accusers1625A Punch Is Seen, and a Player Is Out164 The Shifting Politics of Cuba Policy 2207Under Pressure, Cuomo Says Ebola Quarantines Can Be Spent at Home652Germany Fights Population Drop494Trayvon Martin Case Shadowed by Series of Police Missteps167It Takes a Mentor622House Votes to Sue Obama for Overstepping Powers597Don’t Muzzle the Clown443The Humanist Vocation192Weak Oversight, Deadly Cars163More on Sleeping Pills and Older Adults1092The Big Lie Behind Voter ID Laws 128‘Princelings’ in China Use Family Ties to Gain Riches495Doctors Denounce Cancer Drug Prices of $100,000 a Year445Let’s Reject the ‘Inevitable’530Will Portland Always Be a Retirement Community for the Young?733On Election’s Eve, G.O.P. Is Confident, but Voters Are Sour118The Building Blocks of a Good Pre-K 1031One Day in an Elevator With Obama, Then Out of a Job630Ultra-Orthodox Shun Their Own for Reporting Child Sexual Abuse290Cuomo’s Gun Law Plays Well Downstate but Alienates Upstate 999Why Are There Still So Few Women in Science?449Alice Munro Wins Nobel Prize in Literature