America's Billionaire Class Funds Anti-Democratic Forces: Robert Reich
Billionaire donors are pushing an unsettling agenda for America – backing Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was stolen, calling for restrictions on voting, and even questioning the value of democracy itself.
Photo Insert: Former US labor secretary and professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley, Robert Reich
Decades ago, America’s monied interests bankrolled a Republican establishment that believed in fiscal conservatism, anti-communism, and constitutional democracy, Robert Reich wrote in a column for The Guardian.
"Today’s billionaire class is pushing a radically anti-democratic agenda for America – backing Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was stolen, calling for restrictions on voting, and even questioning the value of democracy. Peter Thiel, the billionaire tech financier who is among those leading the charge, once wrote, ‘I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.’ Thiel is using his fortune to squelch democracy. He donated $15-million to the successful Republican Ohio senatorial primary campaign of JD Vance, who alleges that the 2020 election was stolen and that Biden’s immigration policy has meant ‘more Democrat voters pouring into this country,’” Reich, a former US labor secretary and professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley, argued.
Thiel and his fellow billionaires in the anti-democracy movement don’t want to conserve much of anything – at least not anything that occurred after the 1920s, which includes Social Security, civil rights, and even women’s right to vote. Thiel rants against the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women and rued that the notion of “capitalist democracy” has been turned into an oxymoron.
Reich says Thiel is dishing out rubbish.
"If capitalist democracy is becoming an oxymoron, it’s not because of public assistance or because women got the right to vote. It’s because billionaire capitalists like Thiel are drowning democracy in giant campaign donations to authoritarian candidates who repeat Trump’s big lie,” Reich adds.
If America and the world should have learned anything from the first Gilded Age and the fascism that began growing like a cancer in the 1920s, it’s that gross inequalities of income and wealth fuel gross inequalities of political power – which in turn lead to strongmen who destroy both democracy and freedom.
Peter Thiel may define freedom as the capacity to amass extraordinary wealth without paying taxes on it, but most of us define it as living under the rule of law with rights against arbitrary authority and a voice in what is decided.
If we want to guard what is left of our freedom, we will need to meet today’s anti-democracy movement with a bold pro-democracy movement that protects the institutions of self-government from authoritarian strongmen like Trump and his wannabes, and from big money like Peter Thiel’s.