Settling for candidates that can afford to keep running
This past week Democratic candidates for the presidential nomination, California Senator Kamala Harris and New York Senator Kristen Gillibrand dropped out of the 2020 race. While Gillibrand did not qualify for the December debates, Harris did, yet she was unable to continue funding her campaign.
At the same time that Harris, a candidate who was one of the biggest hopefuls in the race, dropped out, billionaires like Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer are funding multi-millionaire dollar ad campaigns.
Losing talented and competent candidates while those with little support and a lot of money are able to continue their race sets a dangerous precedent. If the only candidates we are left with are not those with support from the people, but support from their bank accounts, we will be left in a cycle where our president will continue to be the person who can afford the position.
Even looking at our current president, Trump could be the start to a long line of millionaires and billionaires who make their way into the presidential office using money, instead of intellect or expertise, to gain the highest position of power in our government.
According to Politico, despite adequate support and qualification for the next debate, Harris was running out of money. Harris lacked the funds to air her TV ad campaigns in Iowa.
On Tuesday, as an explanation for her choice, Harris said: “I’ve taken stock and looked at this from every angle, and over the last few days have come to one of the hardest decisions of my life. My campaign for president simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue.”
In fact, Harris even addressed candidates like Bloomberg and Steyer when she said: “I’m not a billionaire. I can’t fund my own campaign. And as the campaign has gone on, it has become harder and harder to raise the money we need to compete. In good faith, I can’t tell you, my supporters and volunteers, that I have a path forward if I don’t believe I do.”
For perspective, Harris was unable to raise the one million dollars needed for her ad campaign. On the other hand, former New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg, just joined the race with little public support and has begun a $37 million dollar advertising campaign. Tom Steyer, another candidate who has been polling very low, has spent $56 million in total.
Candidate Elizabeth Warren had an amazing response to Bloomberg’s actions upon entering the race: “His view is that he doesn’t need people who knock on doors. He doesn’t need to go out and campaign, people. He doesn’t need volunteers. And if you get out and knock on 1,000 doors he’ll just spend another $37m to flood the airwaves and that’s how he plans to buy a nomination in the Democratic party. I think that is fundamentally wrong.”
Warren brings up many important points, including how little support candidates with large pockets need. When candidates like Harris, who was polling at number five out of the 28 democratic candidates there have been thus far, aren’t being seen, but candidates with money are constantly in commercials and the media, as a voter it can become confusing as to who is actually doing well.
Donald Trump has spent $34 million dollars on advertising for his presidential campaign and that’s simply not an option for most candidates. If being constantly reminded of a candidate through media campaigns is what it will take for someone to win the presidency, then we will surely end up with a leader who has bought their election.
In reality, it will be very hard for either Bloomberg or Steyer to work their way into public favor. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg are leading the field with a pretty heavy advantage. However, it’s a slippery slope once we start losing promising candidates to disappointing ones with money.