If Bernie Sanders Really Wants to Take on Billionaires, He Can Start With His Fellow 2020 Democrats
Sen. Bernie Sanders has a new book out,“Where We Go from Here: Two Years in the Resistance, ”and he sat down with New Hampshire Public Radio on Monday to promote it. When asked if he is going to run for president in 2020, he said it depended on the reaction he got to his message that “we need an unprecedented grassroots political movement to stand up to the greed of the billionaire class and the politicians they own.”
Well, if Bernie really wants to battle “millionaires and billionaires,” all he has to do is file his papers for the 2020 Democratic primary. The list of 33 (and counting) potential 2020 candidates includes several billionaires, including former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, coal-magnate-turned-green-activist Tom Steyer and Starbucks ex-chief executive Howard Schultz, along with Dallas Mavericks owner/reality TV star Mark Cuban (who may or may not be a Democrat).
When it comes to “billionaires buying elections,” Steyer is the leader of the pack. With a net worth of $1.6 billion, Steyer has been the top individual donor in two out of the last three election cycles, giving a total of more than $226 million dollars over that period. Steyer is open in his efforts to connect his donations to environmental policies he supports.
Steyer’s $59 million in this cycle was edged out this cycle by fellow billionaire liberal Michael Bloomberg (Net worth: $45 billion), who gave $61 million, much of it through his pro-gun-control efforts. Bloomberg is just as clear that he wants his money to impact public policy on the Second Amendment.
Big spending by these billionaires, however, doesn’t seem to bother Bernie. When asked about Bloomberg and Steyer, Sen. Sanders said Steyer “is a very decent guy,” while he said he didn’t know Bloomberg personally. Then Sanders went on to add:
“The issue that concerns me–it’s not just those guys– it’s that, as a result of Citizen’s United, we have a corrupt campaign finance system. The Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson, they’re trying to buy elections. Billionaires shouldn’t be buying seats for themselves.”
But how is Tom Steyer, who has literally used his billions to build a campaign infrastructure many believe he will use to run for president in 2020, different from the Koch Brothers–other than the fact that they’re not running for anything, and their Americans for Prosperity Action PAC spent a measly $6.5 million this cycle?
The problem for progressives like Bernie Sanders and Liz Warren with their “millionaires and billionaires” schtick is that the Democratic Party has become the party of America’s wealthy elites. For every Republican billionaire like Sheldon Adelson (who was the top individual donor this cycle at $113 million) there are a dozen left-leaning tech billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook and Jeff Bezos at Amazon, or rich Hollywood millionaires and movie stars, or liberal activists like George Soros, etc. etc.
The Trump GOP is the party of rural working-class Americans more than it is “millionaires and billionaires.” And making the case that the rich are stealing democracy is tough when they are (based on the numbers) apparently “stealing it” for Democrats.
And why do the Democrats even need leftover rabble rouser Bernie Sanders? Tom Steyer is at least as populist as Sanders–if not more so. Michael Bloomberg is at least a socially liberal–once again, if not more so. And there’s a whole bevy of college-student-friendly far-Left activists like Booker, Brown and Beto who haven’t achieved AARP status yet. For a guy who should be considered top dog for 2020, Sen. Sanders current poll numbers are unimpressive.
Bernie’s real problem isn’t “billionaires.” It’s his bad luck that the last real chance he had of being the Democratic nominee was stolen from him by Hillary Clinton and the DNC.