The Washington Post:
The 2016 Republican presidential contest, designed to be a tidy affair, is instead shaping up to be a chaotic, drawn-out slog, thanks largely to an expanding pool of rich patrons raining money on a broad field of candidates….
"There could be as many as a dozen candidates that have a threshold amount of money in their campaigns and super PACs to compete vigorously in the early states," said Phil Cox, a Republican strategist who runs America Leads, a super PAC supporting New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie that has the backing of at least two billionaires.
Last night, Jeb Bush bragged to donors that he "has raised tens of millions of dollars for his allied super PAC." (Bush also told reporters that "you don't need to have these massive amounts of money to spend … if you run the right kind of campaign. But ...") His total, just for the first quarter, could reach $100 million. Marco Rubio has already nailed down about $20 million, half of it from one Florida billionaire. Ted Cruz's "independent" fundraising arm "pulled in $31 million in a single week" — much of it from a single hedge-funder — and Scott Walker, who has been unofficially blessed by the Koch brothers, "is close to matching that."
Again, numbers cited are merely starting-gun figures, as Sheldon Adelson toys with all the GOP candidates — and Hillary gropes toward $2.5 billion (a trifle difficult to reach in $100, Everyman contributions).
Although it is said there are no absolutes in physics or politics, one thing is for damn sure this time around: No one will emerge cleanly victorious from 2016's fundraising grotesquery. The fetid auctioning of the White House (not to mention Congress, which I'd rather not even think about) is now in plain view — so plain, candidates now actually boast about the size of their holding companies.
American politics has traveled from a Madisonian timocracy to a Jacksonian democracy and on to a plutocracy and now finally to what we might call an obscenocracy — a kind of plutocratically tempered kakistocracy, fueled by kleptocrats devoted to bamboozling the poor rubes.
That there is an underlying constant is undeniable: Money has always trumped decency. But that our system is now corroding at an exponential rate is just as undeniable.