Political Donors as the Judges of Right and Wrong

Readers of the Sunday Providence Journal will be familiar with the “In Quotes” column that typically appears on page A2; basically it’s a few notable quotes from the week, usually with a picture of the speaker. This week, one in particular caught my eye, because it’s from Brown professor Wendy Schiller, and I think it expresses a surprisingly simplistic thought for a political science professional.
On the huge inflow of funds to Gina Raimondo’s campaign fund:

If this person who’s advocating changing the pension system can attract that kind of support, it is an external signal that she’s on the right track.

Actually, it’s not. It’s a signal that people with big money to devote to politics like something about Raimondo’s prospects. No doubt, some of it has been donated in admiration for her pension efforts, but (as I’ve been suggesting for a while, now) some of it is surely related to her likelihood to be a progressive warrior when she translates her pension caché into a higher office.
It’s a bit humorous, though, to read a Brown professor seeing big campaign money as a form of validation. I haven’t followed Schiller closely enough to offer this as more than a musing, but I do wonder whether her analysis would be the same were the treasurer likely to be a far-right stalwart once she’d moved on from the pension mess and the treasurer’s office.

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jparis
jparis
9 years ago

Awwww it’s happy warm fuzzy get-along time Justin!
I couldn’t agree more on both points:
A) That using donations (unless maybe it’s a ton of small < $100 individual donations) to justify policy, or for that any politician is "on the right track" is so stupid as to border on the hilarious. B) That self-identified "progressives" have been getting a free ride on this problem lately, while conservatives generally have not. Ms. Raimondo had enough power, money, and support that she got Tom Sgouros to gracefully drop out of the race last year. This is pretty well known. What is perhaps slightly less-known is that it wasn't fear, but rather assumed common cause (well if you read his old statement, it's there) that made Tom come to think his running didn't make sense anymore. Now Ms. Raimondo is pretty much doing everything that Tom wouldn't have done, and she's doing it all so she can reach higher office through the same ole' network of high-dollar donations that speak for corporations and banks, not average RI citizens. So bit of buyer's remorse for the leftist Rhode Islanders who thought a woman with investment banking experience would be a progressive champion, eh? I hate to say I told you (them) so, but...

Max D
Max D
9 years ago

What never ceases to amaze me is how solving the pension problem is some how considered not progressive. Raimondo is only working within the framework of per position. Is it because she isn’t advocating for raising taxes on the rich? If progressives are waiting for that to happen in order to fix the pension system they’ll hear the sucking sound of the fund drying up first. Those that could make that happen dare not out of political fear and those charged with trying to fix the problem can’t waste their time hoping it will happen.

bob
bob
9 years ago

Rock on Justin, making the Projo with your analysis.

jparis
jparis
9 years ago

Max, she’s not fixing the pension system in a way that either most of the folks on AR or the folks in my camp would be pleased with. Who is it pleasing? Her corporate and investment banker donors.
Well, I listen to Mr. Sgouros when it comes to pensions frankly, and he’s done some lengthy writing on what a “progressive solution” would look like. I can’t say as though I am nearly so well-informed or eloquent on the matter.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking true progressives are against redesigning the pension system, although I’m sure there are a number of labor-owned Democrats (not people I’d vote for) who exactly fit the bill for the picture you’re trying to paint.

mangeek
mangeek
9 years ago

“she’s not fixing the pension system in a way that either most of the folks on AR or the folks in my camp would be pleased with”
That’s a sure sign that she’s doing the right thing. If nobody likes your idea, it’s probably pretty awesome. 🙂

jparis
jparis
9 years ago

Would you say the same thing about Mr. Obama, Mangeek?
The left doesn’t like him but will only grudgingly vote for him to avoid President Romney (or worse).
The right pretty much despises him.
So are his ideas pretty awesome in your opinion?
Funny thing — this little side-track is very much related to our discussion of why political donations aren’t evidence of a “good idea” either.

Max D
Max D
9 years ago

“Well, I listen to Mr. Sgouros when it comes to pensions frankly, and he’s done some lengthy writing on what a “progressive solution” would look like. I can’t say as though I am nearly so well-informed or eloquent on the matter.”
I’ve read his writings and his idea of a fix is to kick the can down the road which in the end only exacerbates the unfunded liability.

Jim
Jim
9 years ago

Though it is true that the most donations indicate who has the most support and who will ultimately win. Like in CD-1 Doherty is the one with most support, because he has the most money. He can raise that money because so many of us agree with his vision for the district.

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