Maybe Money

Last week, like virtually every week of the Trump era, many stories were worthy of being named the biggest political story of the week but one in particular looked like the most impactful to me. It has to do with one of my pet peeves – the influence of money in politics and surprisingly I view it is potentially good. Let’s explore.

As of this writing it appears that there are thirteen candidates left pursuing the Democratic nomination and for all intents and purposes Donald Trump alone on the Republican side. Some interesting data came out regarding their spending to date. Tom Steyer has spent more than Trump and 11 of the Democrats (including the frontrunners) combined. Michael Bloomberg has spent more than that entire dozen combined. If you have attempted to make a donation to Bloomberg you have found out that you can’t; he is truly self-funding.

Last week Bloomberg pledged to continue spending at around that rate through the November election whether he is the nominee or not. That is a huge deal! More than anything else Bloomberg wants to defeat Trump and regardless of the Democratic nominee’s identity Bloomberg alone will guarantee that they have the financial resources. Since they are both New York City guys and Bloomberg is much wealthier than Trump (whose status as a billionaire is questionable) I have to wonder if this isn’t partially some old feud.

Bloomberg is reported to have over 500 people working on his campaign already. Since he is spending only his own money, when he drops out he can instantly (and legally) turn his campaign into an issue oriented campaign that just so happens to target Trump and in the process help the Democratic nominee. Under Citizens United and a few subsequent Supreme Court rulings, if structured correctly – which it no doubt will be – the effort will be totally legal. Another feature is that it won’t even involve dark money because Bloomberg is disclosing that all the money involved is his.

An interesting aside is that reportedly Trump and Bloomberg have each made equal and sizable Super Bowl ad buys. It will be interesting to view the commercials. The game has a huge viewing audience but the timing is also notable. The game takes place on Sunday February 2nd, the Iowa Caucuses are the next night and the one after that will feature the State of the Union address. A lot of dots to connect there!

If you are looking for a prediction of a nominee or an endorsement you are in the wrong place – today anyway. However I am certain that there are only six candidates left with a chance of snaring the golden ring in Milwaukee. They are: Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. While I have preferences among them I would have no problem supporting and voting for any one of them in the general election. More importantly the platform any of them would ultimately run on is very different than what Trump will put forward and Bloomberg’s money will de facto support that platform; therefore the name at the top becomes interchangeable as far as the mechanics and financing of the contest are concerned.

I remain unchanged in my opinion that the influence of money in American politics is its biggest problem. Unfettered spending has long been the goal of the Republicans. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see the old adage “Live by the sword; die by the sword” metaphorically defeat them in 2020? I have long anticipated an incredibly expensive 2020 presidential race. That is going to happen but if Bloomberg largely underwrites the Democratic campaign that will free up a lot of smaller donors to finance down ballot races including those crucial Senate contests.

Trump won’t spend his own money and he doesn’t nearly have as much as Bloomberg does. His major financiers are largely investors; will they be willing to invest in what they perceive as a losing candidate who is taking the GOP Senate candidates down with him?

Could the way to reduce the impact of money in politics be by winning an election in large part because of it?

The title for today’s article is Maybe Money; perhaps Probable Money would have been a better choice.

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