Fight Harder, Dems

kathy hockulI have spent a lifetime advocating campaign reform, and do so today. I also support Democratic groups such as Priorities USA, House Majority PAC and Majority PAC and their partner groups that accept large donations from undisclosed donors. Here’s why:

The campaign finance law should be changed, but until it is, both parties should play by the same rules. Vince Lombardi never suggested his Green Bay Packers should have three downs when they had the ball, while their opponents should have four.

The president elected in 2012 might well make Supreme Court appointments that will uphold, worsen or reverse campaign finance law. The most powerful way to achieve campaign reform, by far, is to reelect President Obama, which could bring the reversal of Citizens United .

Priorities USA is working to reelect the president. Majority PAC is working to maintain the Democratic Senate (which confirms nominees). House Majority PAC is working to restore Democratic control of the House (which must pass election laws). It is profoundly ironic, but profoundly true, that large and undisclosed donations that we might disapprove of, in theory, are the best way to eliminate them, in practice.

The victory by Rep.-elect Kathy Hochul in a heavily Republican district will generate new Democratic donors large and small, and dramatize the problem Republicans have when they take positions many voters believe are extreme.

Hochul’s victory suggests Democrats have a fair chance to reelect President Obama, restore Democratic control of the House and maintain Democratic control of the Senate. However, the GOP also has a chance to elect a Republican president, Senate and House and move even further right a Supreme Court that has already made decisions that reject judicial precedent and favor GOP 

Republican and conservative financiers will continue to aggressively exploit current law through very large and undisclosed donations. I disagree with Karl Rove, members of the Koch family and others, but they are playing by the legal rules. Their Democratic and progressive counterparts should play by the same rules, or they surrender to Republicans a powerful advantage in a high-stakes election.

In my view the Citizens United decision was one of the most radical and wrongheaded decisions since the Supreme Court considered slavery. It is appalling that two justices made speeches that gave the appearance to many of grave conflicts of interest that should have required recusal.

I support a constitutional amendment to reverse the Citizens United decision and statewide initiatives to promote campaign reform and increase disclosure. Polling suggests these actions would be supported by large majorities of voters.

The 2012 election involves historically high stakes and could be decided by razor-thin margins of victory. These elections should not be decided because Republicans take legal donations and Democrats do not, or because Republican donors fight harder for victory than Democratic donors.

The GOP is dominated by a faction that demands obedience to policies that are extreme by the standards of every previous generation.

No Republican president or presidential nominee has ever suggested destroying Medicare and replacing Medicare with a subsidy that would create windfall profits for insurers and impose painful new costs on seniors. No Republican president has ever endorsed aggressive attacks against collective bargaining, which has long been viewed by both parties as integral to American society and prosperity.

Current GOP attacks against programs important to women, against consumer protection, against programs to create jobs and provide jobless benefits and against efforts to protect average investors who depend on retirement accounts are extreme by standards of historical Republicanism.

Brent BudowskyThe moderate wing of the GOP is dead. Lincoln, Eisenhower, Ford and Theodore Roosevelt would be under siege in the GOP today. President Reagan counseled in his 11th Commandment that Republicans should not attack each other. But moderate Republicans today face vicious attacks from those waging ideological holy wars against them.

As the 2012 elections approach, this will be apparent to Democratic donors large and small. We are entering a political war for the ages. Every Democratic hand should be on deck.

Brent Budowsky
The Hill

Brent Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at



  1. Joe Weinstein says

    Yes, we must fight proudly for basic Dem principles and programs which implement them, and for real Democrats in Congress and the White House.

    Budowsky very wrongly conflates that necessary fight with reelecting Obama.

    Domestically, Budowsky correctly describes the Gops but disregards the Dems. He thereby omits a key fact: the Gops have an act – a wicked act to be sure – but the Dems do not. The Dems now just barely and apologetically defend – or compromise away – what they used to promote proudly. That’s thanks largely to Obama.

    Budowsky disregards wars and other foreign affairs, but in that arena Obama has proved even more disastrous. Obama rapidly became yet another Nobel laureate given the prize for mere promise of peace, who then went on to sustain and create ever more elective wars. And none of these wars oppose prime enemies of the USA, human rights and world peace. These enemies (as recognized by some senators) include at least the regimes in Iran, North Korea and Syria. Yet, even as Obama makes nice analytical noises about democracy and nonproliferation, and goes through a leisurely charade of ‘sanctions’, he has given the Iran regime plenty of time and room to repress its people, propose genocide, develop nukes, and make Iraq a client state.

    Obama’s key paradigms – for morality, leadership, and the US role in the world – are all untenable, and a betrayal of the basic values and hopes of Americans of all parties and of liberty-seeking people world-wide. In his moral paradigm, when a bully imposes a conflict, the bully’s viewpoint has a moral weight equal to or greater than that of the victims; the prime need is for the victims to appease the bully. Leadership equates to waiting for others to lead: ‘’leading from behind’. The US has – or should have – no special or particularly important role: all national regimes are – or should be – given equal consideration: whether democratic or tyrannical, whether of large nations or small.

    Here are three specific extra reasons (as if any were needed) – just from events of the past few weeks – why I cannot support Obama’s re-election, re-nomination – or for that matter uncontested continuance now in office:
    Event: Anniversary of BP Gulf disaster.
    Latest Obama response: Promote and accelerate deepwater drilling.
    Event: Fukushima nuke disaster.
    Latest Obama response: Promote more nuke plants, through taxpayer giveaways and guarantees.
    Event: Palestine Authority (PA) teams with erstwhile opponent Hamas, whose charter demands elimination of Israel. PA’s head Abbas writes in NY Times that he seeks a Palestine state not in order to make peace but as a tool to intensify fight against Israel.
    Latest Obama response: Insist harder than ever that democratic Israel must give away defens-vital territory in order to be sure to create a thugocratic Palestine state.

    Obama’s election was a glorious and promising symbol but his ensuing actual attitudes and administration are disasters for the world, the USA and the Dems. Insofar as emperor Obama has clothes at all, he’s is a semi-Gop in Dem clothing. What we need now is to encourage a real Dem or two to step forward for 2012, as did Gene McCarthy and then Robert Kennedy in 1968.

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