It is one’s allegiance to these ideas, and not one’s income or the particular industry in which one works, that is the true measure of membership in the Caste. Quibbling over the edges of this worldview—over which programs to cut or expand, which taxes to lower or increase, which industries to subsidize and which to not, how best to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and power America—is a matter of means not ends. Nor is it a question of one side working for selfish purposes and the other being devoted to a higher morality. Only the half-baked can think that particular charge withstands scrutiny. We’ve known since Plato that all human action, no matter how wrongheaded, is taken with a view toward some good; and that it is difficult for human beings, even Democrats, to separate their view of the good from their view of what’s good for them. Jeffrey Katzenberg may have aggressively pushed his candidates to back a trade deal with China because he believes free trade brings peace and prosperity to everyone involved; or he may have done it because his film studio would profit immensely from the deal; or he may have done it for both reasons, or for neither reason, or for some other reason entirely; in the end the reason does not matter because he did what he thought was good. He did what he thought was right.
Why Katzenberg and Steyer and Bloomberg and Zuckerberg and Bezos and Soros do what they do matters far less than how reporters interpret what they are doing. Michael Bloomberg pours millions into races in Colorado and Virginia in order to elect candidates who will restrict the sale and ownership of guns, and the media covers it far, far differently than when some random Iowans belonging to Americans for Prosperity try to elect a mayor who won’t raise their trash collection fees. Steyer can spend close to $8 million helping the mediocre and corrupt McAuliffe barely win the Virginia’s governor mansion, and he gets a friendly Politico profile, “Inside a green billionaire’s Virginia crusade,” where we read that in Virginia in 2013 Steyer spent “more money, on a per-vote basis, than the famously prolific conservative donors Sheldon and Miriam Adelson spent in the 2012 presidential election.” If Adelson outspends Steyer on a per-vote basis in 2014, will he get Steyer’s press?