Katrina Vanden Heuvel Suggests Money in Politics Is Racist to African-Americans

Appearing on the Thursday edition of MSNBC’s The Last Word, The Nation's Katrina vanden Heuvel suggested that money in politics is discriminatory toward African-Americans and has belittled their votes along with those of every American “in an age of impunity.”

When first asked by host Lawrence O’Donnell for her thoughts about Jeb Bush’s strategy of fundraising for his super PAC, vanden Heuvel ruled that “[i]t’s a disgrace” and further brings into question whether or not the U.S. is “a government of, by, and for the people or are one of these oligarchical countries which we issue human rights reports around.”

The editor of The Nation followed that bizarre insinuation by giving a shout-out to an article by colleague Ari Berman “about how the wealth primary is underwriting voting rights” that, in turn, allowed her to further expand upon her point about money in politics hurting African-Americans (and others): 

50 years ago, African-Americans were discriminated against by poll taxes, literacy tests. Today, the skyrocketing costs of campaigns, including the super PACs you mentioned, these billionaires, have made everyday Americans rightful vote, mean not a enough, mean too little and the other thing I say is it's not just about access and influence. It’s about the ability to shape the debate that goes on in this country. 

If that wasn’t enough, the far-left pundit ignored how overwhelmingly liberal the area inside the Washington D.C. beltway is when she claimed that “there's a striking disconnect between what is going on inside the beltway in Washington and the views of everyday Americans” on issues such as “job creation, on higher minimum wage, on affordable college, progressive taxation.”

In capping it all off, vanden Heuvel urged viewers to not be told that aren’t any “difference[s] between the parties, though both in hoc to the systemic corruption.”

Minutes later, the segment took an unexpected turn when fellow lefty and Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs owned up to how the Democratic Party’s leading family in Bill and Hillary Clinton are rather hypocritical on the issue of campaign finance:

And I have to say the Clintons are not a pretty picture in this story. They are the ultimate schmoozers. Bill Clinton is the one that opened the Democratic Party to Wall Street. Really wrecked the party in ideological terms, I would say, and created a lot of the mischief that led here and now we see how just frankly, you know, in utter pursuit of money they are all the time. So this is a – they're vulnerable now. Where is the candidate? Maybe it is Bernie Sanders. 

For the Clintons, however, Mother Jones Washington bureau chief David Corn came to their rescue in the segment’s final moments:

Just an interesting thing is, I don't disagree with anything that Jeffrey just said, but one of the four issues that Hillary identified is going after big money. She knows she's vulnerable and I think she's going to try to address that.

The relevant portion of the transcript from MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell on May 28 can be found below.

MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell
May 28, 2015
10:05 p.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: 2016 Candidates & Dark Money Politics]

LAWRENCE O’DONNELL: And Katrina, we're watching this game being played by Jeb Bush now, which is just a mockery of these campaign finance laws. He's pretending he’s not yet officially a candidate for president simply so he can raise more more very directly with the super PAC that he would not be able to officially coordinate with if he was a declared candidate. 

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: It's a disgrace, Larry. I mean, you said it at the top of the program. I mean, the question is: Are we a government of, by, and for the people or are we one of these oligarchical countries which we issue human rights reports around. The super PACs have redefined the systemic corruption that already existed. Ari Berman in The Nation this week writes about how the wealth primary is underwriting voting rights. 50 years ago, African-Americans were discriminated against by poll taxes, literacy tests. Today, the skyrocketing costs of campaigns, including the super PACs you mentioned, these billionaires, have made everyday Americans rightful vote, mean not a enough, mean too little and the other thing I say is it's not just about access and influence. It’s about the ability to shape the debate that goes on in this country. That is why there's a striking disconnect between what is going on inside the beltway in Washington and the views of everyday Americans, which it's on job creation, on higher minimum wage, on affordable college – 

JEFFREY SACHS: Taxes of the rich –

VANDEN HEUVEL: – progressive taxation and finally, to pick up on what Jeffrey said, we live in an age of impunity. There is an inequality of accountability. Why is it that those who took us into war in Iraq or the bankers are not held accountable while someone in Louisiana has life without parole for stealing a $149 coat? I mean, all of this doesn't make sense. We need to find a new way and there are solutions. I'll let David speak. He's my long time colleague, but are solutions, whether it’s President Obama issuing an executive order to force federal contractors to disclosure their contributions. Public financing, which this City of New York has and it has changed the political landscape and there are bills with only one Republican co-sponsor. So, don’t let people tell you there are no difference between the parties, though both in hoc to the systemic corruption. 

(....)

SACHS: And I have to say the Clintons are not a pretty picture in this story. They are the ultimate schmoozers. Bill Clinton is the one that opened the Democratic Party to Wall Street. Really wrecked the party in ideological terms, I would say, and created a lot of the mischief that led here and now we see how just frankly, you know, in utter pursuit of money they are all the time. So this is a – they're vulnerable now. Where is the candidate? Maybe it is Bernie Sanders – 

VANDEN HEUVEL: Bernie Sanders. 

SACHS: But somebody can stand up and make this point and get a quite – 

DAVID CORN: Well, the interesting – here –  

SACHS: – far down the road on this. 

CORN: An interesting thing – 

O’DONNELL: David, the last word on this.

CORN: Just an interesting thing is, I don't disagree with anything that Jeffrey just said, but one of the four issues that Hillary identified – 

VANDEN HEUEVEL: That’s right. 

CORN: – is going after big money. She knows she's vulnerable and I think she's going to try to address that.

NB Daily Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential Campaign Financing Liberals & Democrats MSNBC Other MSNBC The Last Word Video Katrina Vanden Heuvel Jeffrey Sachs
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