Donor thumbprints are all over our choices and our opportunities to make political choices. And Americans don’t have a lot of political options when it comes to reducing their influence—thanks to the Supreme Court (a product of their influence). This longstanding phenomenon is playing out again in the wake of last week’s election. Several big donors to the Republican Party are seeking to leverage their money to get the Party to distance itself from Donald J. Trump, after the disappointing midterm results. Whether or not these particular men succeed, we do know that there is no question donors will substantially shape how the Republican Party, and its sub-factions, align during the run up to 2024. Meanwhile, two unknown donors have gifted the DonorsTrust, one of the biggest and most influential groups on the right, in excess of $435 million. A recent article in Politico finds that “All told, DonorsTrust spent about $192 million last year and entered 2022 with roughly $1.5 billion in assets.” Although DonorsTrust, as a 501(c)(3), cannot directly spend in elections, it has used its assets to fund the Federalist Society’s successful efforts to shape the federal judiciary, including the Supreme Court, as well as the Republican Party’s redistricting efforts. Nor are donor thumbprints only evident on the right. The Democratic Party and its civic allies are the beneficiaries of Sixteen Thirty Fund’s at least $191 million.
The Washington Post reports that “House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) plans to unveil a strategy Thursday outlining how Republicans would address climate change, energy and environmental issues if their party gains control of the House in the midterm elections.” The plan is anticipated to focus on “streamlining the permitting process for large infrastructure projects, increasing domestic fossil fuel production and boosting exports of U.S. liquefied natural gas.” It is not clear to me (or the Washington Post) how increasing domestic fossil fuel production will address climate change or the environment. Still, it has been awhile since the GOP has felt the need to offer a policy platform. A very recent PEW poll found significant support for climate change policy. In particular, it found internal policy divisions among Republicans:
- “66% of self-described moderate and liberal Republicans favor taking steps toward [carbon neutrality].”
- “67% of conservative Republicans say it should be expanding production of oil, coal and natural gas.”
In all PEW summarized the data on Republican views, “On balance, Republicans and Republican-leaning independents give greater priority to expanding the production of oil, coal and natural gas than to developing alternative energy sources, and they overwhelmingly believe that fossil fuels should remain a part of the energy picture in the U.S.”