Massive Hypocrisy: Millionaires Warren, Bernie Attack Newest Opponent for Having Too Much Money
On Monday, one-issue gun-grabber and nuclear weapons aficionado Rep. Eric Swalwell of California dropped out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination after having failed to make an impression on the trail or in the debates.
Finally, I thought to myself, the bumper car primary process was beginning to look a little less chaotic.
On Tuesday, billionaire and liberal activist Tom Steyer decided that with only 23 candidates remaining, there was space for one more.
A former hedge fund manager, Steyer made the announcement in a barn wearing the “Beto special” — a blue shirt with the sleeves rolled up and top button undone — and touched on themes like money in politics and how “people believe that the corporations have bought the democracy.”
Climate change and injustice were also motifs during the campaign announcement video from the mega-donor “who has funneled millions of dollars into pushing for the impeachment of President Donald Trump,” according to CNBC.
Steyer’s late decision to enter puts him behind the eight ball. He needs to get 65,000 individual donors and hit at least 1 percent in three national polls by the end of the month to make the next round of debates, which is pretty much pigs-flying territory.
The bar for the September debates is even higher, and the only thing Steyer has going for him is the fact that he’s willing to invest $100 million in his own campaign. That’s nothing to sneeze at, but I don’t think any of the Democrats want more vehicles in the bumper-car rink, particularly this late.
Given that, it’s only natural that Steyer found himself under attack from some of the front-runners. What didn’t seem quite right was that he was being attacked for having money by two millionaires.
But, hey, at least they weren’t billionaires.
“The Democratic primary should not be decided by billionaires, whether they’re funding Super PACs or funding themselves,” Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren wrote in a Twitter post. “The strongest Democratic nominee in the general will have a coalition that’s powered by a grassroots movement.”
The Democratic primary should not be decided by billionaires, whether they’re funding Super PACs or funding themselves. The strongest Democratic nominee in the general will have a coalition that’s powered by a grassroots movement.
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) July 9, 2019
Warren has a net worth of between $3.7 million and $10 million, according to CNN. The Hill also reported that her campaign has taken in $19 million in the second quarter, which isn’t a bad haul.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, also told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell he opposed Steyer’s entry as well.
“I like Tom personally, but I do have to say, as somebody who in this campaign has received 2 million contributions, averaging $19 a person, I’m a bit tired of seeing billionaires trying to buy political power,” Sanders said.
When asked if he didn’t think Steyer should be taken seriously as a candidate, Sanders was a bit equivocal.
“No, I didn’t say that. If you’re a billionaire by definition, you are taken seriously,” Sanders said.
“But I think the American people understand that one of the great problems facing American society today is that we have a billionaire class, which is getting richer and richer, while the working class of this country has been decimated over the past 45 years.”
Sanders is worth $2.5 million, according to Forbes. While he hasn’t raised as much as Warren has, he still took in $18 million in the second quarter. He also had $6 million sitting in other accounts that got transferred to his campaign.
Steyer spokesman Alberto Lammers put out a statement after the digs by two of the front-running candidates saying that Steyer “agrees with Senators Warren and Sanders about the importance of running a grassroots campaign.”
“He’s been doing that from the outside for the last 10 years, beating big corporations by going directly to the voters,” Lammers said.
“Tom’s campaign for President will build a national grassroots movement to remove the corrupting influence of corporate money on our politics and push power to the American people.”
Well, he’d better find a way to get some grassroots support fast, given the debate requirements and the fact that he’s virtually unknown outside hardcore Democrat activist circles — circles that have mostly coalesced around other candidates already.
That said, it’s curious to see the just-plain-rich Warren and Sanders go after the very rich because a billionaire candidate could represent an existential threat to their campaigns and because it makes them look populist.
There’s arrant hypocrisy in attacking someone for having money and spending it on a campaign — an American’s First Amendment right — especially given that both of the senators involved here have plenty of money of their own and have also amassed a pretty substantial advantage over Steyer in donations.
We’ll see if Steyer’s campaign amounts to anything. But however he scores in the polls, Steyer’s greatest contribution to the 2020 race may be to illuminate the terminal insincerity of one-percenters like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren when they bash “the rich.”
On that ground alone, Steyer is a bumper car conservatives ought to heartily welcome into the fray.
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