Democrats have spent years sanctimoniously whining about the twin evils of “dark money” and “gerrymandering,” arguing that unfairly manipulating congressional districts and accepting anonymous money threatens the soul of American democracy.
Yet their hypocrisy is on full display when it comes to both. Start with the purportedly nefarious impact of “dark money,” which refers to anonymous funds donated to nonprofit organizations that work to influence the political process.
A recent New York Times analysis found that 15 of the biggest nonprofit groups that fund Democratic Party causes had dropped $1.5 billion on the 2020 presidential election to get Joe Biden elected — or $600 million more than Republican groups.
As the New York Post recently reported, liberal dark-money groups with innocuous-sounding names like New Venture Fund, the Sixteen Thirty Fund, the Hopewell Fund, the Windward Fund and the North Fund — all functioning under the umbrella of the dark-money Arabella hub — spent more than a billion dollars to help Biden win the presidency.
Funded by big-name billionaires like Bill and Melinda Gates and Pierre Omidyar, among others, the group is involved in virtually every aspect of American political life. For instance, one of Arabella’s subgroups, Demand Justice — one of the groups that spearheaded the ugly smearing of Justice Brett Kavanaugh — is gearing up to influence both the pick and confirmation of Justice Stephen Breyer’s replacement.
Where is Sheldon Whitehouse, the most vociferous critic of anonymous money influencing the courts, now that “grimy swamps of dark money influence” are here to help Democrats? The Rhode Island senator, just one of many hypocrites in that body, won’t even answer questions about the dark money he accepted from a Providence green-energy outfit named Utilidata.
The hypocrisy is clear, too, when it comes to gerrymandering. Every 10 years, state lawmakers are tasked with redrawing legislative and congressional districts. Preparing for potential midterm loses in 2022, liberals and their media allies began churning out stories about the menace posed by corrupt GOP-led legislatures engaging in extreme gerrymandering. The Washington Post’s editorial board ominously warned last year that the “Republicans’ war on democracy is ramping up.”
As it turns out, Democrats have been far more aggressive in their gerrymandering efforts than Republicans. And despite controlling more state houses and governorships, the GOP is set to lose seats in that battle. While Republicans certainly haven’t been innocent bystanders in the gerrymandering wars, states like Texas have largely gone about strengthening existing GOP seats, while liberal states have fileted the few remaining Republican districts in their states.
New York is set to cut the number of Republican districts in half, devising new constituencies that snake through neighborhoods for no reason other than to split communities that may pose a threat to the Democrats’ power. In Illinois, the Democrats concocted such an egregiously serpentine district that a court upheld a GOP challenge to stop the charade. The new boundaries are only slightly less unreasonable.
On the other hand, in Republican-majority states like Ohio and North Carolina, liberal courts have intervened, and are likely to overturn rejiggered maps. In Pennsylvania, the left-leaning Supreme Court decided to take over the redistricting process that was initially in hands of a lower-court judge. When Maryland’s moderate Republican governor Larry Hogan tasked a nonpartisan citizen advisory commission to redraw his state’s map, an effort widely praised by good-government groups, state Democrats rejected the map and went about weakening the sole GOP-leaning district in the state.
Within a year, gerrymandering, a sickness menacing the body politic, was being largely ignored or even celebrated. “Democrats are gerrymandering ruthlessly,” noted one reliably partisan columnist in the Washington Post. “Good for them.”
For many on the American left, anything perceived as damaging to its electoral prospects or policy initiatives are by default undemocratic and disreputable. It’s not about the dark money or the gerrymandering, or the health of our democratic institutions. It’s about raw political power.
David Harsanyi is a senior writer at National Review and author of “Eurotrash: Why America Must Reject the Failed Ideas of a Dying Continent.”