Buying Candidates is a Symptom of Oligarchy

It was a Freudian slip of epic proportions.

Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, describing the House’s partisan flip in 2018, bragged that he “bought” the new Democratic majority for $100 million. He quickly corrected himself, but the damage was done.

Bloomberg is one of two self-funding billionaires in the Democratic primary. After his late entry into the race, he has spent over $500 million on his campaign to date. That may be a drop in the bucket of Bloomberg’s obscene wealth, but to the rest of us, it represents one of the most open displays of American oligarchy sinceĀ Citizens United.

The Center for Responsive Politics found that this is now the most expensive Democratic primaries in history. The candidates have spent $1.2 billion (yes, BILLION) to date, over six times more than the amount spent at this point in 2016. Also important to note: more than half of that spending is from Bloomberg and Steyer alone.

CRP Democratic Primary Spending February 2020
Source: Center for Responsive Politics

When wealthy individuals like Bloomberg can use their wealth to influence our elections and our policymaking, they pose a serious threat to our democracy. Wealth decides the votes of many, whether through advertising, lobbying, or campaign and PAC contributions, fundamentally corrupting the concept of equal representation.

And when ordinary Americans no longer have a say in our political process, we suffer. Climate change ravages our communities as fossil fuel companies receive subsidies and regulation rollbacks. Healthcare remains expensive and out of reach for many while drug manufacturers and insurance companies profit on suffering. Young adults crushed by student loan debt live paycheck to paycheck as Sallie Mae takes its top executives to Maui. We fight endless wars as the Pentagon budget swells and private weapons contractors line their coffers.

It’s time to put an end to American oligarchy. For the sake of our nation’s survival, we need to make sure that the wealthy can’t buy influence, fuel campaigns, and spend their way into greater power.

Tell Bloomberg and others: our money is not to be used to buy elections.