In politics, as in life, it’s all about the Benjamins

In politics, as in life, it’s all about the Benjamins


By funneling his sea of cash into his organization, The Macker (i.e. Terry McAuliffe) secured the top spot on the Democratic gubernatorial primary ballot.

It’s certainly no coincidence that so many hackneyed political catchphrases have a decidedly financial slant. From “dialing for dollars” to “the buck stops here,” there’s not a single part of the electoral or governing process that can’t be boiled down to crass commercial terms. And that’s only as it should be, since—at its brutish, venal core—the business of politics is all about begging people to give you money so you can buy your way into office and then punish your enemies by taxing them into penury.

And so, since we’re deep into the primary season, here’s a quick look at the three stages of a politician’s money-grubbing career (or, as we call them, the Stations of the Cash), viewed through the prism of Virginia’s political class.

Fund racing

The first, and most arduous, part of a successful political career begins the second you declare for office. Woe to those who dare to enter a race without the ability to raise money, for they shall be swamped by a tsunami of filthy lucre. The most recent, and instructive, example of this can be seen in Virginia’s Democratic gubernatorial primary, where fabled fundraiser Terry McAuliffe is using his monetary might to run ads and build campaign infrastructure while his competitors are still lacing up their skates. This cash advantage makes a difference in ways both large and small; just last week, McAuliffe was the first to submit his primary petition, thereby assuring that his name will top the ballot (a much larger advantage than you might suspect). Fellow candidate Brian Moran had indicated that he would try to beat McAuliffe to the punch, but in the end his cash-strapped campaign had problems confirming voter signatures, and he came in second.

The pork parade

Once you get elected, the fun part really begins: spending other people’s money. Of course, for every stimulus-happy majority member, there’s always a minority party pooper, which explains why House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, who wasn’t especially concerned about deficits during the Bush years, is now fighting tooth and claw to stop Democrats from spending one thin dime of taxpayer money. (We hear he’s also spearheading a campaign to stop salmon from swimming upstream and Britney Spears from saying the word “y’all.”)

The great provider

And then, finally, comes the pinnacle of any aging politician’s career. After a lifetime of arduous elections, he finally gets to kick back and… raise money for other people. (It’s amazing what pols do for fun, isn’t it?) Unfortunately for Virginia’s outgoing governor (and new head of the Democratic National Committee), Tim Kaine, sometimes these things aren’t as easy as they look. In February, the DNC raised a piddling $3.2 million—a number so lousy, even the disorganized and dispirited RNC raked in nearly $2 million more.

You know, Governor, sometimes it’s best to quit while you’re ahead. But then, on the bright side, we suppose you could always call up Terry McAuliffe and ask for a loan.