Like most liberals, I had some fairly grim thoughts about the shadowy bunch of conservative SuperPACs that were supposedly going to deluge the 2012 race in a sea of money and finally make it clear that this country has evolved into an out-and-out plutocracy, a country for sale to the highest bidder. I thought perhaps Obama would win, but only by paying fealty to the big dollar people in his own party.

Now, the president did raise an enormous amount of money. But one thing I did not expect was that Republican operatives might see those enormous wads of cash, and start thinking more about lining their own pockets than making their man win. On RedState, of all places, there’s a damning investigation of why Romney’s vaunted ground game smartphone app was a big airball:

So what caused the breakdown and why didn’t it get fixed in time? Well according to sources who worked closely with the program, the blame is at the feet of consultants.

Specifically Targeted Victory, FLS Connect, and The Stevens and Schriefer Group. While the Romney campaign did work with other consultants, they were apparently not part of the problem.

They say that the truth is the consultants essentially used the Romney campaign as a money making scheme, forcing employees to spin false data as truth in order to paint a rosy picture of a successful campaign as a form of job security.

Josh Marshall compiled reports right before the election of big ad buys in non swing states, possibly from SuperPACs spending money on their friends’ TV station, while Karl Rove is “scrambling” to defend himself from his big donors who want a scalp for donating $300 million and getting nothing.

We live an an age of inequality and concentrated wealth not seen since the Gilded Age. Perhaps I’m romanticizing the past, but those days a lot more of that wealth was the result of actual building and business, not just financial parasitism. Sure, there was the stock-watering Jay Gould, but there was also Carnegie, Rockefeller, and Vanderbilt. Seems plausible that Romney-style Wall Street titans who made billions (and aquired egos to match) on debt-fueled looting would more easily get suckered like this.

Whatever the case, it seems that monumental pile of money spent on this election was not an unqualified poison for our society. In the end, at least to some degree, the truth will out. And that is an encouraging thought.


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Follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanlcooper. Ryan Cooper is a national correspondent at The Week. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, The New Republic, and The Nation.