According to New York Times reporters Mark Mazzetti and Adam Goldman in an article dated today, June 25, 2021, security contractor Erik Prince, wealthy heiress to the Gore-Tex fortune Susan Gore, and others hired operatives to be trained by former British spy Richard Seddon, then burrow in various Democratic Party and progressive organizations “to gather dirt that could sabotage the reputations of people and organizations considered threats to a hard-right agenda advanced by President Donald J. Trump.”

These reactionary extremist operations included giving the moles enough funds to donate tens of thousands of dollars to targeted organizations so that they could gain access to major events such as the February 2020 Democratic Presidential primary debate in Las Vegas. 

Mazzetti and Goldman write: 

What the effort accomplished — and how much information Mr. Seddon’s operatives gathered — is unclear. Sometimes, their tactics were bumbling and amateurish. But the operation’s use of spycraft to manipulate the politics of several states over years greatly exceeds the tactics of more traditional political dirty tricks operations.

It is also a sign of how ultraconservative Republicans see a deep need to install allies in various positions at the state level to gain an advantage on the electoral map. Secretaries of state, for example, play a crucial role in certifying election results every two years, and some became targets of Mr. Trump and his allies in their efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

My own thoughts on this are that this is a perfect example of what the true purpose of taxation in a republic should be: to tax large concentrations of wealth punitively enough that such anti-democratic operations cannot be easily funded. There are no circumstances in a republic in which a person with hundreds of millions or billions of dollars is not a potential threat to self-government by millions of other citizens not possessing similar wealth. 

As James Madison wrote in April 1787, preparing for the Constitutional Convention in Vices of the Political System of the United States,

If the minority happen to include all such as possess the skill and habits of military life, & such as possess the great pecuniary resources, one third only may conquer the remaining two thirds.

This is the age-old problem of oligarchy, and it is exactly what we confront in the Republican Party and runaway economic inequality today. It is exactly why high taxes on the rich are required so that they simply cannot afford to undertake or even contemplate such anti-democratic covert actions, or even massive political organizing and lobbying.  

The real purpose of taxation in a republic is to prevent the emergence of oligarchy. Once you realize this, you can easily see why the conservative / libertarian / Republican dogma of low taxes is always inherently a threat to democratic government. 

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