Rebekah Mercer is one of the billionaire plutocrats who funds Republicans, including Donald Trump, Steve Bannon and Rep John Faso. Not surprisingly, her public profile has grown since Trump’s election, and so has a chorus of criticism against her. Billionaires live in their own surreal bubble of sycophants, hangers-on and “yes” people who do nothing but tell the billionaires how great they are. So when wealthy plutocrats face scathing criticism, they don’t always take it well.
Rebekah Mercer wrote a short essay recently in the Wall Street Journal pushing back on the growing criticism leveled against her, and it was as deceptive and dishonest as it was deluded. A good summation of her essay and its falsehoods was just published in Jezebel by Brendan O’Connor:
It is worth reiterating that billionaires who flood our political ecosystem with their money are doing something profoundly un-American and un-Democratic. Some of the damage they cause is only possible because of the absurd and perverse Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United. And some of the damage happens because our nation has no mechanism to hold media outlets like Fox “News” to account whey they blatantly lie to viewers.
Money is not speech. It is influence, power and persuasion. John Faso recently said that the $5,950 donated by the NRA in 2016 was too small to influence him, but politicians like Faso don’t just accept plutocrat money for the vitally important task of funding their campaigns. They also know that plutocrats like the Koch Brothers fund dozens of extreme right-wing think tanks and journals that might possibly employ them when their political careers end. Plutocrats like the Murdoch family might offer a retiring politician a job as a special correspondent or resident expert on a cable “news” show. The plutocrats might offer retiring politicians jobs outright in their industries or hedge funds, and they also have wealthy friends and connections that can prove extremely lucrative. Also, the plutocrats can and do provide similar opportunities to the family members of politicians.
So the arrogant, self-important billionaires who control the Republican party fund a hidden economy of political hackery designed to further their greedy agenda, almost always at the expense of average Americans. They shroud their real goal in secrecy or hide it behind twisted versions of political philosophies, often libertarianism, or they glorify it through malignant figures like Ayn Rand. But in the end, their game is a simple one. Move money from the 99% to the 1%.
Democrats are hardly immune to this form of political prostitution, but the scale of the Republican effort is a magnitude-of-order larger. Liberal billionaires tend to spend their fortunes curing disease or reducing poverty. Conservative billionaires tend to spend their fortunes buying media outlets to broadcast propaganda. On the right we have Fox & News Corp, Breitbart, InfoWars, iHeartMedia (formerly Clear Channel) and Sinclair Broadcasting. But on the left there are few examples analogous to these. The New York Times? Hardly.
Our response to the Mercer funding of Faso (and ReclaimNY) has to be that their billionaire money is not welcome here. Their political influence campaign is repulsive and indefensible, and their arrogant greed will be resisted. Just because it is legal does not make it moral or patriotic, quite the opposite. And as long as Faso is their unapologetic lackey, we must make sure he pays a political price for his association with them and their money.