The rich are taking over our elections

By: Tim Klapac, Senior Editor

With the announcement that billionaire, and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, is running for president, his deep pockets were wide open for the world to see. Bloomberg made a massive advertising purchase before his official announcement, spending $30 million  on advertisements that run from Nov. 25 to Dec. 3.

While Bloomberg’s net worth is the only one among the 2020 Democratic candidates that is greater than President Trump’s, his abrupt candidacy raises concerns about how much the polls are affected by the rich and powerful. Trump announced his candidacy more than 15 months before the 2016 election, while Bloomberg is arriving much later to the party with the 2020 election less than a year away.

Bloomberg has already made one of the largest single-day ad buys in US political history and that’s just for the launching of his campaign. There is little evidence to doubt that he won’t continue to throw money at the poll numbers until his results improve.

What’s problematic is that his numbers already look good for a candidate that is new to the trail. According to the latest national poll from Real Clear Politics, Bloomberg is already polling at 2.5%, higher than senators Amy Kloubacher and Cory Booker and Representative Tulsi Gabbard. All three of those candidates qualified for the most recent debates in Atlanta, Georgia.

President Trump became the richest man to be elected president in 2016, with a net worth of $3.1 billion, according to Forbes. If Bloomberg were to be elected, he would skyrocket past Trump with a net worth of $54.5 billion.

The position of Bloomberg’s spending may not show results right away as the former mayor has placed the majority of his spending in what are known as “Super Tuesday” states. These states announce their primary results on March 3, 2020 and hold one-third of all of the delegates in the primary campaign. While the other candidates are fighting to win early primary states, such as Iowa and New Hampshire, Bloomberg is attempting to get ahead in the bigger pond.

All of this raises the question “Does money buy politics?” There has always been the expectation that money has driven the direction of power in government and that notion is often used as a punchline by the media. However, this brazen move by Bloomberg sheds an entirely new light onto this closet of skeletons.

While the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) places limits on how much an individual, party or group can donate to a campaign’s funds, there is no limit on how much the candidate themselves can spend. There have been efforts to curtail ruthless spending on political campaigns, but little has been done to enforce these laws.

After the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act was passed in 2002, there have been many instances in which the Supreme Court has struck down provisions within this law, including the Citizens United decision in 2010, which allowed corporations and unions to spend as much money as they please on advertisements and other means of political influence.

It is unfair for the richest in the country to get away with using their money to control who is and who isn’t seated in government, but now we are reaching a tipping point. If the rich and powerful become the candidates themselves, no other candidate will have a chance. With unlimited money coming from the individual and coming from outside sources in terms of third-party advertisements, we could soon see a presidential election between Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos.

Does that sound good to you?

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