I find it impossible to take Bernie Sanders seriously when he decries all the money in politics.
It’s bad enough that he’s talked incessantly about money being too powerful in politics—all while outraising and outspending the Clinton machine, which takes some doing.
Now he’s come to California and is expressing vigorous support for one of the great forces for giving more power to moneyed special interests – the top two primary.
Sanders is praising the top two – which he calls the open primary – because it allows non-Democrats to vote in the Democratic primary. And Sanders enjoys strong support from non-Democrats.
But its real effect has been to give the rich and well-funded – politicians like himself – an even bigger advantage. The two rounds of top two provide more opportunities for donations. And the rules of the game make big money essential. In the first round, candidates need a lot of money to distinguish themselves from the confusing mass of candidates that appear together on the ballot – because all candidates of all parties are on those ballots.
And in the second round, top two—if it works – produces more negative campaigning, as candidates of the same party sometimes advance. To distinguish from each other, candidates of the same party lean to personal attacks, and such attacks require dollars.
Early returns show that the top two is roughly doubling the cost of campaigns.
If Sanders wants to be taken seriously on political money, he should oppose, not support, the top two.