The Flip Side Of Big Money In Politics: What If The Will Of The People Is Racist?
Bernie Sanders has made big money in politics a major campaign issue this election cycle. He’s denounced the “billionaire class” and their undue influence on our political process. Sanders has not been very successful at winning primaries, but he has been successful at turning the public consciousness towards Wall-Street and their outsized donations to political candidates. Sanders insinuates (quite rightly, in fact) that money from big donors is a sort of legal bribe in the American political system. For the relative pennies invested in political candidates and lobbyists, big donors and their corporations can stand to make major profits after preferential laws and regulations are passed through Congress.
Sanders takes a black and white approach to big money in politics. To him, it is clear cut — big corporate donors and the Wall Street billionaire class are villains, while the American people are simply being duped and taken advantage of. Sanders believes that the American people are inherently good, and if they simply had more control over our Democracy (really, its a Republic…) then things would all go swimmingly. As many in the Sanders camp would put it, we simply need to put the power back in the hands of the public. The will of the people should be louder than the will of corporate interests. But here’s what Sanders and many American liberals tend to miss: what if the will of the people is racist? What if the American people, when given the opportunity to elect a candidate not beholden to corporate interests — selected an overt racist?
There’s another candidate in the 2016 cycle who abhors big money in politics. He speaks on corruption and political bribes all the time. He calls out other candidates who have taken money from Wall Street too. His name? Donald Trump. Yesterday, Trump refused to denounce David Duke, the former Grandmaster of the Klu Klux Klan. Duke proudly endorsed Trump, and said any white man who didn’t was “a traitor to his race.” Trump rallies have become breeding grounds for white supremacist groups, and there have been several reports of Trump supporters physically harassing and beating minorities. Trump has belittled women, called for a national ban on muslisms, and plans on mass deportation of latinos throughout his campaign. It is no secret that Trump is running an overtly racist campaign, and many have begun to label him a white nationalist. If we trust in the ideology of Bernie Sanders, and his idea that the will of the people is always good, then a candidate like Trump shouldn’t even exist, let alone be the Republican front runner for President. But here we are — Trump has won 3 of the 4 February contests and is poised to win virtually every Super Tuesday state save Texas.
Obviously, the will of the people is with Donald Trump. He isn’t bought by lobbyists or corporate interests, and he is speaking directly to the wants of large swarths of the Republican electorate. His popularity is so high that many working class white Democrats are also enthralled, leaving Republican primaries with significantly higher turnout and voter interest than those on the Democratic side. Trump has galvanized many whites that feel as if their country is being overrun by minorities and losing its Christian (conservative white) values. Bernie Sanders says that the will of the people is always right. But what if the will of the American people is white nationalism?
The corporate class stands diametrically opposed to Donald Trump. The 1 percenters and Wall Street bankers stand to lose significant political influence under a Trump administration, who would instead be beholden to the white public who elected him. In a twisted, perverse way, a Trump administration would be Bernie’s view of America — Wall Street subdued under the will of the people — it would just be that the will of the people is racist. Trump champions many of the same issues as Sanders, from a healthcare mandate, to being against free trade, and being an isolationist. Trump has even defended Planned Parenthood. Trump’s acceptance and promotion of government social programs makes him less like a modern Republican and more like a Dixiecrat of old — an economic populist who brings whites together through a fear and hatred of minorities.
Trump’s views are obviously popular. Many of the bigoted groups that support him — such as the KKK — have been around for a very long time. So why haven’t there been any other political candidates like Donald Trump in recent memory? Well, you can thank corporate interests for that. Think of it this way: corporations want to maximize profit. To do so, they fund the campaigns and Super PACs of politicians that they want to influence. In return, laws are passed that benefit said corporation and allow them to profit even more. You know what corporations don’t want to do? Lose money. That’s why corporations don’t fund candidates that say outlandish or overtly racist things, as Trump does regularly. Imagine the boycotts and profit losses of the corporations that donated to overtly racist candidates like Donald Trump!
Since campaigns cost a significant amount of money, virtually all politicians need some version of corporate backing in order to seriously contend for political office. That money comes with strings attached, namely, the acceptable dialogue is limited to a specific range. If a candidate says something overtly racist, which is outside the acceptable range, then their corporate sponsors will abandon them, and their political chances fall to nil. The most similar candidate to Donald Trump in the past 25 years is perhaps Pat Buchanan. Buchanan stroked the flames of white nationalism in the 1990s with his Presidential runs, but he always flamed out because he could never raise enough money. Buchanan’s ideogoloy and rhetoric were very similar to Trump’s, absent the celebrity flair. Here’s a quote from Buchanan’s recent book, Suicide of a Superpower:
From the chapter, “The End Of White America”:
The white population will begin to shrink and, should present birth rates persist, slowly disappear. Hispanics already comprise 42 percent of New Mexico’s population, 37 percent of California’s, 38 percent of Texas’s, and over half the population of Arizona under the age of twenty.
Mexico is moving north. Ethnically, linguistically, and culturally, the verdict of 1848 is being overturned. Will this Mexican nation within a nation advance the goals of the Constitution — to “insure domestic tranquility” and “make us a more perfect union”? Or has our passivity in the face of this invasion imperiled our union?
That sounds exactly like what Donald Trump is pushing today! He’s talking about a fear of minorities and the need to fight back against Hispanics “taking over white culture.” Buchanan’s ideology obviously had public support in the 1990s, as Trump’s does now. But what stopped him from grabbing the Republican nomination? Corporations loathed backing an open white nationalist. He could never raise the funds to seriously contend. The will of corporations stopped the racist will of the public.
With Donald Trump, money isn’t an object. He can self fund his campaign and run it however the hell he wants. And absent corporate influence, he is giving the people what they crave. Maybe Bernie Sanders was wrong after all. Perhaps it is time to stop viewing the 1 percent as the villains. Perhaps, corporate interests are holding back something far more sinister: the will of the American people.
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