There’s an interesting political story making the rounds about a wine cave fund-raiser attended by presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg. An opponent of his in the Democratic Primary, Elizabeth Warren, described an event he attended as being held in a wine cave and hosted by a billionaire; these being bad things in Warren’s mind.
It can be argued, and I have, that groups should not be able to contribute to a campaign but we will never be able to stop individuals from giving as much as they desire.
Actor Jane Lynch, a Buttigieg supporter, commented that billionaires have as much right to say who gets to be president as waitresses and plumbers. Lynch received a great deal of criticism for this comment although so has Warren for hers. The wine cave comment is interesting on its face and both sides have legitimate points, that’s what I’d like to discuss.
What Warren says is undeniably true. Wealthy people hold fund-raisers, sometimes in a wine cave and sometimes not, which political candidates attend. The goal being, not surprisingly, raising funds. Warren portrays this as a bad thing, that billionaires have an oversized influence on who wins an election. It is undeniable that billionaires help raise money and contribute huge amounts to campaigns. This being true, it doesn’t make a bit of difference when it comes to casting my ballot. I vote for whom I want to, regardless of how much money they raise or whom a billionaire happens to supports.
However, it is also certain that many potential candidates are eliminated from the election in part because they can’t raise enough funds. I argue the inability to raise funds is more a product of being an uninspiring candidate than anything else but there is truth to the accusation. A candidate who doesn’t attract wealthy backers is in serious jeopardy of being unable to finance a campaign.
Warren is correct that billionaires influence campaigns far more than waitresses or plumbers when it comes to fund-raising. Lynch is right in suggesting that each person can vote a single time and a plumber’s vote counts for exactly the same as a billionaire’s vote.
What’s most important about this issue is that each side is right in their own way. If Warren doesn’t want to attend billionaire, wine cave fundraising events she should not. If Buttigieg and other candidates want to do so, they should. What we as voters must decide is if it bothers us. For some the answer will be yes and for others no.
Wealthy people have always had an outsized influence on political elections and political policy. The biggest problem is not that wealthy people have a say, it’s what those wealthy people are saying. Are they interested in a better United States of America today or do they want a better bottom line at the expense of tomorrow?
Wealthy and charismatic individuals will always have a bigger say in the outcome of elections. You may not like it, but it’s reality.