editorial | lessons from the election

As campaigns end, billionaires should mind their own businesses

By far the most obnoxious phenomenon of the 2012 campaign was the zeal with which billionaires assumed that their newfound ability to make unrestricted campaign contributions gave them a superior voice in national affairs. From the utter inanity of Donald Trump to the frank manipulations of Sheldon Adelson, the very rich treated the campaign as a game to be rigged, and an opportunity to press their own agendas. During the primaries, Adelson and Foster Freiss single-handedly kept candidates from dropping out. Thankfully, those candidates — Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum — didn’t get very far. And the hundreds of millions of dollars of super PAC ads in the general election didn’t yield visible fruit. No doubt they’ll try again, which is why Congress should force such deep-pocketed backers to put their names on the ads they fund. It may be too much to hope that they would just disappear.