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Opinion

April 30, 2014

Armerding: Liberal complaints of big money in politics are overblown

How do you define big money?

That question gets especially relevant every other year — this being one of those “other” years. The president is in the middle of his term, but every seat in the House and a third of those in the Senate are up for grabs.

So, the selective outrage about “big money in politics” is in full cry. I say selective, because my friends on the left regularly go on about how obscene and corrupting it is for conservative billionaires like the Koch brothers to have a much louder voice in the electoral process than average people like you and me.

But I don’t hear them complaining about liberal billionaires like George Soros, who is just as politically active as the Kochs, and whose voice in American politics is also vastly more prominent than that of average voters. Not to mention the raft of Hollywood multi-millionaires who use both their money and star power to amplify their voice in politics. I never hear liberals demanding that people like Oprah, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Ben Affleck be muzzled because their fame gives them a disproportionate role in politics even though their public policy credentials aren’t much more impressive than yours or mine.

We got another example a week or so ago when there were no complaints from the left when former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that he will spend $50 million in a campaign against the National Rifle Association on gun control.

“We’ve got to make them afraid of us,” he declared. Fear might not be the most accurate term here. He has certainly gotten their attention — just as he got the attention of everybody in Manhattan when he tried to control the size of the soft drinks they could buy. But, it is sort of an amusing image to think of a little guy waving his oversized wallet facing off against millions of Americans with firearms.

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