The Fatal Flaw With Democracy

Cory Gardner, a Republican candidate for Senate, holds a sign with supporters on Election Day in Centennial, Colo., Nov. 4, 2014. Gardner defeated incumbent Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.). (Photo: Matthew Staver / The New York Times)

Of all the depressing things to take away from last night’s elections — and believe me, there are many — the most depressing is probably the fact that we have outsourced our political process to factions.

Actual candidates and actual campaigns no longer run the show; billionaires and dark money do.

In many of the closest congressional races across the country, outside groups — groups like Super PACs that aren’t officially connected to campaigns — actually outspent regular candidate campaigns.

In North Carolina, for example, where Republican Thom Thillis beat out Democrat Kay Hagan in the most expensive senate race ever, outside groups spent $88 million while the Thillis and Hagan campaigns together only spent around $33 million.

In Colorado, meanwhile, where Republican Cory Gardner beat out Democrat Mark Udall in the race that really sounded the death knell for Democrats, outside group spending tapped out around $81 million while regular campaign spending came in around $27 million.

It used to be that candidates had to work hard to raise money from everyday donors like you and me, but now, thanks to the Supreme Court, they don’t have to worry about that. The billionaires run their campaigns for them.

And believe me, it really is the billionaires who are calling the shots.