Buried in a Reuters article about the gay enthusiasm gap in today's elections is this interesting tidbit:
Donations to federal candidates from gay interest groups have taken a hit this year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Gay groups have donated $849,410 to federal candidates during the 2010 election cycle, down from $1.8 million in 2008 and $2 million in 2006.[...]
As for the drop in donations, it is the economy, rather than voter disappointment, that is mostly to blame, said Andy Szekeres, a political consultant who specializes in gay rights ballot measures. Nevertheless, he said, political donors in the gay community feel they have been treated like a "gay ATM" by the Democratic party.
I didn't know that donations were down by that much, but it makes sense that the economy would be to blame. LGBT orgs have been cutting jobs right and left and reducing programming because they just don't have as much money coming as they did before. People just aren't donating to the orgs as they used to, and the drop in donations started at about the same time as the real estate bubble burst a few years ago.
Here's another interesting fact that Karen Ocamb reported yesterday:
You might want to sit down for this bit of news: a record four BILLION dollars is expected to be spent on this year's midterm elections, according to an Oct. 27 estimate by the non-partisan watchdog group, Center for Responsive Politics.[...]
The "major milepost in influencing U.S. political elections" surpasses the money spent in the 2004 election cycle with Republican President George W. Bush seeking re-election against Democratic Sen. John Kerry - not to mention all the congressional races and antigay state initiatives that year. "Overall this cycle, outside groups, including the national party committees, unions, trade associations, nonprofits and "super PACs" such as American Crossroads, have so far favored Republicans. Conservative-oriented groups have spent $1.34 for every $1 liberal-affiliated groups have spent, the Center's data show," a story on the Center's website reports.
"And the Republican outside spending advantage is even more pronounced: Republican-aligned and conservative groups so far this election season have spent $2.12 for every $1 that Democratic-aligned and liberal groups have spent, according to the Center's analysis."
Well, the economy isn't keeping everyone from donating to political campaigns, apparently.
It's becoming clear now that we're not in what could really be described as a recession. It seems to be just a new normal for the economy, a new balance of power. 10% unemployment is high for the US, but it's in the normal range compared to other countries. Real incomes might be down in the US, but they're still far above the global average. There's no reason to think that it will be decreased in the future, especially as we watch our government unable to make even the investments necessary to fight unemployment and our politicians unable to make the basic arguments about why and how the government should be responding to unemployment.
At the same time, the incomes of the uber-wealthy continue to climb, and corporations are seeing record profits and claiming a larger percentage of the GDP for themselves than they were just a few years ago. It doesn't feel like a recession for them, so they see no reason to try to turn things around.
Sure, everyone is less wealthy when the poor are poorer. The rich don't get richer as the poor get poorer, they just get richer in comparison to everyone else. A large population that's able to purchase their products and strong infrastructure to make their work easier and an educated, efficient work force actually make the people who earn their living off capital richer. But isn't it nicer if everyone else is out of work and desperate to do what you want them to do and too uneducated to fight back?
It's a self-perpetuating cycle as the wealthy then spend money on campaigns to protect and increase their wealth and power. Folks like Robert Rowling aren't spending $2 million (in just the cash that was reportable) to buy elections for nothing - they want to protect themselves from the pitchfork and torch-wielding masses they know would be going after them if they understood what was going on in their country.