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.