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To date, Demo­c­ratic can­di­dates and bil­lion­aires Mike Bloomberg and Tom Steyer have each spent $200 million on their respective election bids. I Wiki­media Commons

To date, Demo­c­ratic can­di­dates and bil­lion­aires Mike Bloomberg and Tom Steyer have each spent $200 million on their respective election bids. The two busi­nessmen paid their way into pres­i­dential via­bility through huge adver­tisement buys and massive pro­pa­ganda cam­paigns.

Other can­di­dates raised money mostly through indi­vidual dona­tions, proving their support comes from real people. Bloomberg, on the other hand, rejected all dona­tions besides his own, deciding to self-fund his cam­paign.

This presents a problem for Bloomberg. The Demo­c­ratic National Committee’s requires each cam­paign to have 130,000 unique donors to be invited to the debate stage — that is, until last week.

On Friday, the DNC announced changes to its debate qual­i­fi­ca­tions. It removed the unique donor requirement, paving the way for Bloomberg’s debate appearance.

Last year, several pres­i­dential can­di­dates, including former Senator Mike Gravel, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D‑Hawaii, and Sen. Cory Booker, D‑NJ, called for the DNC to reform its debate rules. The rules were too exclusive, they said, and didn’t give smaller can­di­dates a fair shot. 

Still, the DNC refused to change any­thing.

Since then, Bloomberg has spent bil­lions on his cam­paign. In the week before entering the race, Bloomberg paid more than $1 million to the DNC and its joint fundraising PACs. He also gave hun­dreds of thou­sands of dollars to state parties during the month of November, just before announcing his can­didacy.

Even if it wasn’t explicit, the term “bribe” seems like an appro­priate word to use. Bloomberg’s indis­cretion appears eerily similar to the fiasco in the 2016 Demo­c­ratic primary, when leaked emails and tes­timony from Donna Brazile, the interim chair of the party, con­firmed the Hillary Clinton cam­paign had vir­tually full control over the DNC. Clinton’s cam­paign paid the DNC’s debt, and in return, gained “com­plete control of all the party’s finances, strategy, and money raised” as well as hiring new staff.

In 2016, activists responded by calling for trans­parency and superdel­egate reform. Sur­pris­ingly, the DNC met some of their demands. For example, superdel­egate voting — a system which let party leaders sway the primary and helped Clinton clinch the nom­i­nation — would not take place unless there is no clear winner by July, when the nom­i­nation con­vention is scheduled.

This decision, however, is also up for change. Politico reported that some DNC offi­cials, fearing Sen. Bernie Sanders’s, I‑Vermont, rise in the polls, are con­sid­ering rein­stating superdel­egate voting at the con­vention to screw him out of the nom­i­nation.

These facts confirm what the party’s left-leaning members have always known: The Demo­c­ratic Party repu­diates its voters whenever it can. The DNC chooses bil­lion­aires and big busi­nesses, and has firmly com­mitted itself to their interests, dis­re­garding popular interests.  Fun­da­men­tally, the party rep­re­sents and main­tains an oli­garchical rela­tionship with the country’s political system.

The Demo­c­ratic Party is not the only culprit. Repub­lican elec­tions function like this as well. Sen. Mitt Romney, R‑Utah, a busi­nessman worth hun­dreds of mil­lions of dollars, almost became pres­ident in 2012, and now holds a pow­erful spot in Con­gress. Pres­ident Donald Trump, much like Bloomberg and Steyer, comes from the bil­lionaire class and bought his way into via­bility by pouring $66 million into his own cam­paign.

The country’s two major parties, which together hold almost every single office in the nation, rep­resent the wealthy elites. They couldn’t care less about you or me.

This is not a new phe­nomenon. This is how pol­itics, since before this country’s beginning, has func­tioned. However com­forting it is to think that our political system operates from demo­c­ratic prin­ciples, this is not the case, and it’s high time we moved on from that fantasy.

An election between Bloomberg and Trump — a reality which seems increas­ingly likely — is a contest between two self-obsessed bil­lion­aires. If this happens, given the tremendous power of our exec­utive, our country might resemble more of an oli­garchy than we’re ready to admit.

 

Cal Abbo is a junior studying psy­chology and a columnist on Demo­c­ratic pol­itics. He is the fea­tures editor for The Col­legian.