Concern about 'money in politics' and 'special interests' are largely complaints that conservatives sometimes win 

When I was in Palm Springs recently to speak to businessmen gathered by Charles and David Koch, I ventured out to Bob Hope Drive to talk to some of the liberal protestors. Much of the talk was about money in politics destroying democracy. When I asked about Soros money, the protestors -- like Center for American Progress's Koch-watchers -- immediately slid away from their purported cause (clean elections) and pointed to the substantive differences between those who want more government and those who want less.

The presumption here is that those who want more government are selfless and those who want less government are selfish. I respond by pointing out how those who want less government believe that all of society benefits from economic freedom, at which point more than one liberal in Palm Springs slid back to the money, saying, "this isn't about policy disagreements, it's about unlimited money in politics."

Slide, Slide, Slide.

I've concluded that many liberals and mainstream journalists who express concern about lobbyists, special interest groups, and money in politics are really complaining that conservatives sometimes win. Put another way: "lobbyists" really means those who support conservative positions, and "corporate money" really means "money supporting conservative politicians."

Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of the Nation, is a clear example of this. In July, she wrote, “Missouri’s Roy Blunt, among others, stood with the insurance and drug companies against health-care reform.” But the drug lobby supported Obamacare, helped write it, benefitted from it, and then ran ads helping those who voted for it.

This week in the Washington Post, vanden Heuvel calls Russ Feingold "a victim of Citizens United spending" linking to a Nation interview with this exchange with Feingold:

What about the money that was spent in your race?

Money in politics is a huge issue. But let's be clear: I certainly wasn't underfunded [in 2010]. I don't think another $100 million would have changed the outcome of my race. I don't think even $100 million would have mattered, because of the mindset that had developed, because of the desire on the part of a lot of voters to send that message. I think it's important to make this point, because I'm not here to say that I was a victim in particular of that. I think we have to see the whole money-in-politics issue in a broader context.

The Atlantic's Wendy Kaminer flagged this, and has requested a correction.

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Timothy P. Carney

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