The wonder of this isn’t that Democrats will see low fundraising numbers from what has been a virtual ATM for the party over the last two election cycles. Their attacks on capital and the legal processes of bankruptcy that protects investors make a sudden shyness on Wall Street for further Democratic support practically a given. The wonder is that Democrats got their hands on this money at all in 2008:
A perfect storm of events – the recession, Wall Street anger at Washington, donors who feel ignored by the White House and interest group dissatisfaction – have Democrats bracing for a brutal fundraising period and fearful of losing dominance in longtime donor stronghold and mega-rich New York. …
While most Democrats blame the economy and anger from Wall Street for the fundraising predicament, President Obama, whose own donor model was low-dollar contributors and internet contributors over high-dollar types, has headlined just one major New York event so far this year, for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
And several fundraisers said they knew of very few major events in the Hamptons – the summer playground for the wealthy that was long worked by the Clintons, who used it for simultaneous socializing, vacationing and rainmaking for the national party committees.
Some Democrats called it the worst period for fundraising they’ve experienced in the New York area since 1994, the infamous midterm cycle after Bill Clinton was elected president but quickly became a lightning rod for Republicans and a disappointment to some of his own backers.
This is a good lesson to remember. While many of us argue for more market-based approaches to public-policy issues, the people with capital like to pursue a more influenced-based outcome. While the Obama administration makes Bill Clinton look like Calvin Coolidge by comparison, the truth is that both Democrats campaigned on hostility towards capital, especially in 1992 for Clinton. Both of them were redistributionists; Bill Clinton was just smart enough to wise up after the 1994 midterms and tack back towards the center.
Yet the people who would benefit most — albeit equitably — from market-based policies continued their funding of people who expressed open class warfare and populism. Hillary Clinton designed the prototypical ObamaCare system, after all, only that version was a bit worse than the one passed this year, as it more explicitly nationalized health insurance. Both Hillary and Obama adopted John Edwards’ populism on the campaign trail, doing everything but donning John Dillinger masks in demonizing bankers and investors.
So why did the very people demonized by the Democrats keep putting cash in their pockets? They wanted to curry favor individually, hoping that the class warriors would end up on the doorsteps of their competitors rather than their own. Only belatedly have they discovered that class warfare brings economic disaster to everyone’s doorstep.
When people talk about having to save capitalism from the capitalists, this is what they mean. Perhaps they’re wising up this year, and that would be good, but what they really need is a road-to-Damascus moment — and I’m not sure they’ve had it yet.
Update: John Hinderaker wonders at Power Line whether this will create a donor-generated effort to get Hillary Clinton onto the 2012 ticket — in either slot.
Update II: Commenter MayBee points out the fallacy in the Politico’s statement about the nature of Obama’s donors:
Lost in the attention given to Obama’s Internet surge is that only a quarter of the $600 million he has raised has come from donors who made contributions of $200 or less, according to a review of his FEC reports. That is actually slightly less, as a percentage, than President Bush raised in small donations during his 2004 race, although Obama has pulled from a far larger number of donors. In 2004, the Bush campaign claimed more than 2 million donors, while the Obama campaign claims to have collected its total from more than 3.1 million individuals.
“It’s just unbelievable,” said Thomas A. Daschle, the former Senate leader who is a top Obama adviser. “I don’t know that anybody could have anticipated that the numbers would be this good.”
Don’t expect a repeat in 2012, however.