Friday 30 September 2022
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To the Editor: Conservative Dark Money

Op-ed by Stewart B. Epstein

Stewart B. Epstein. Letter To The Editor.

I want those who stand up for humane, caring and compassionate economic and social values and policies to be clear about what they are facing when they deal with the Republicans and Conservatives of the 2020s. 

The best book about this is 12-time award-winning and prize-winning journalist Jane Mayer’s book, “Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind The Rise of the Radical Right.”  To my knowledge, nothing she’s written in her book has ever been successfully-refuted by anyone, including the billionaires she writes about who hired top private investigative firms to try to dig up some dirt on her as a way to discredit her and her book. After finding nothing and after she went public about it, they suddenly stopped. 

I sometimes mention her and her book in my letters to the editor and other writings and have never seen any response attempting to find fault with what she writes. Conservatives and Republicans seem to go out of their way to avoid her book (which she spent 5 years doing research on). I believe that many conservatives and Republicans conduct thorough searches on her book and will not criticize once they’ve seen the rave reviews it has received. Thus, they avoid her book as if it is kryptonite.

I don’t understand why liberals and progressives won’t read her book. But that’s another issue for another day.

I want liberals and progressives to be clear that most of today’s Republicans and Conservatives have no desire to be “bipartisan.” Whenever I see them say that, I want to laugh and say what John McEnroe used to say to the tennis judges — “You cannot be serious.” They have no interest in disagreeing with us “respectfully.”  Can we stop with this naivete?  Most of them have nothing but disrespect and contempt for us. Haven’t they made that obvious? They will never stop calling us “Socialists” even though they KNOW that we are not. They do that to scare the public and to take votes away from us.

But, overall, what we will be facing in the 2020s is a coalition and joining together between the conservatives who prioritize economic and financial bread-and-butter issues, values and policies (such as abolishing many kinds of TAXES, like income taxes) so they can become even richer and further their Social Darwinist goals to abolish government social programs and those who emphasize the “identity-politics” and “culture-wars” issues such as white supremacy, dislike of all minority groups and immigrants and taking the vote away from non-whites. 

To me, the Trump supporters largely fall within the latter group where the radical-right billionaires and big campaign donors that Mayer writes about mostly fall within the first group and they work behind the scenes to buy elections.

To me, a big problem is that both groups of conservatives, especially the first, believe that their ends justify the use of any and all unethical and immoral means. Thus, they make generous use of and encourage the use of what Mayer refers to as “STEALTH tactics.” Paul Krugman refers to this as many conservatives operating “out of “BAD FAITH.” My reaction to that is to say “NO DUH !”

However, that is an under-statement. One example is how conservatives and Republicans massively fund their many, many large “think-tanks” which are in reality nothing more than slick and stealthy right-wing propaganda mills/factories which they spoon-feed to the American people, to the conservative news media, conservative political organizations and all Republican members of the Congress.

The people who work for these think-tanks are paid very well and very good at what they do. Many of them appear on cable news TV shows and are very slick and smooth talkers, who out-talk and over-talk liberals and progressives, making sure they get more air-time to peddle their right-wing propaganda. But what they never tell the American people is that these conservative think-tanks are not the “objective”, “scientific” and “unbiased” entities that they claim to be. They are right-wing propaganda mills/factories. Every one of their so-called “researchers” and “scholars” is a conservative-Republican.

Another example of how they are stealthy and act in bad faith is that they try to conceal and hide from the public just how very radically and far-right conservative and extremely libertarian and anti-federal government that many of them are. They do this because they know very well that most of the American people who identify themselves as conservative-Republicans do not want to see all of the federal government social programs be abolished as many of them do.

Stewart B. Epstein

Stewart Epstein is a retired college professor of Sociology, Social Work and Psychology who still enjoys informing, teaching and educating people. He taught at West Virginia University, Slippery Rock University and SUNY Brockport. He may be reached at