AND THE MONEY...

AND THE MONEY GOES MARCHING ON AND ON, HUZZAH, HUZZAH? There�s an interesting bit of political entrail reading from The Wall Street Journal, which notes that Big Business, beginning to feel a little shaky over prospects of a Democratic resurgence, is funding donkey candidates at a level not seen since Dick Gephardt was majority leader. According to the article, "[t]he Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has, so far in this election cycle, raised more than its Republican counterpart for the first time since Democrats lost control of Congress in the 1994 election. In the House, Republicans have raised more money than the Democratic campaign arm, but the gap is narrower than in previous campaigns. "Democrats are realizing the importance of working closely with business leaders," says Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, the top fund-raiser for Senate Democrats."

How charming. Before 1994, the corporate world split its contributions basically evenly between the majority-holding Democrats and the minority Republicans. After Newt Gingrich's Republican revolution threw 50 or so Democrats against the wall, though, business all but abandoned the Democrats, becoming part and parcel of Tom DeLay's House. Now, sensing change, they're seeking to buy back some good graces. For the Democrats, this is a positive development, as it means more money for the 2006 race. But for the left, this may prove less laudable, as the Democratic Party's renewed populism and spine flourished in the absence of corporate backers and big money bonds. When those ties that bind are restored, you may see a party with more electoral success, but less ideology and conviction to show for it. It's a variant of Upton Sinclair's famous dictum: It's difficult to get a party to believe something when their financial viability depends on their not believing in it. And with the insurance companies and tobacco firms rapidly increasing their contributions, 2007 might see a Democratic Party that's forgotten much of what it knew in 2006.

--Ezra Klein

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