Think Small Donors Are Good for Politics? Think Again

Ezra Klein: They're making things worse by encouraging 'polarization' of parties

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted May 9, 2013 12:57 PM CDT

(Newser) – Quick, which makes for a healthier political system: big donors or small? Many would pick the latter, on the theory that ordinary citizens shelling out $25 apiece is far more noble than DC lobbyists writing fat checks. But at Bloomberg View, Ezra Klein makes the case that small donors might actually be worse. They tend to be "much, much more ideologically polarized" than the vast majority of Americans who donate nothing, and they want the candidates who get their money to be staunch partisans.

"Big money often wants the two parties more or less to get along; no one gets a tax break if legislation dies on the floor," writes Klein. "Small money will turn on you if you dare cut a deal with the other side." Both kinds of donors have the potential to harm, but it's the "polarization" associated with small money "that probably poses the bigger threat to American politics right now." Public financing can be part of the solution, but we have to recognize that this bitter partisanship isn't going away. We also need to change rules—like those on Senate filibusters, for example—"to keep polarized parties from undermining the well-being of the country." Click for Klein's full column.

Campaign signs for President Obama and Mitt Romney before the November vote.
Campaign signs for President Obama and Mitt Romney before the November vote.   (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
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