Behold the top 100 political donors since 1989! It’s a fascinating list, and worth a close perusal.
Now, many are using this data to point out that, despite the perception of the GOP as the party of the rich, the top 20 donors on this list overwhelmingly favor the Democratic Party.
That’s interesting, certainly, but what’s more interesting to me is how many “on the fence” donors there are. I use “on the fence” as a designation because the list does, but it’s not really accurate: These big donors are not throwing millions at both parties because they can’t make up their minds about how to vote. They’re doing it because they’re hedging their bets to get what they want no matter who wins.
Donating for the “on the fence” crowd isn’t really about political principle; it’s about ensuring access to power — power which has promised to use the law to advantage these benefactors at our (the citizens’) expense.
Also interesting to me is the types of businesses and organizations which curry the favor of both parties. While unions tend to support Democrats and often business associations tend to sponsor Republican victories, many of these top supporters of both parties fall into one of four categories:
- Big banks, like Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan Chase, & CitiGroup
- Defense contractors, like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, & Raytheon
- Health care organizations, like the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, and the American Dental Association
- Telecommunications companies, like AT&T, Verizon, & BellSouth
None of this is really surprising, of course. These four categories represent the special interests which benefit from some of the biggest and longest-standing abuses of liberty and practicality which we see out of Washington…regardless of which party controls the presidency and Congress.
These are the businesses and organizations which are directly or indirectly on the receiving end of absurd amounts of federal largess in the form of bailouts, wasteful war spending, national health care programs, and subsidies (yes, even the telecommunications businesses get subsidies), respectively. And they’re complicit in huge abridgments of freedom, one of which was revealed the recent NSA scandal (in which all three of the telecomms I mentioned are implicated).
By all means, follow the money to see what party is supported by (and thus is likely to support) what industries and organizations.
But to get the bigger picture — the picture of what won’t change just because your guy won the White House — follow the money that flows both left and right.