From: Paul A. Heise [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, August 13, 2015 4:23 PM
Subject: Heise Column
Final 8-11-15 Anger at the money is driving Sanders and Trump
The only way to understand this primary season is to compare the two outliers. Ask why Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are getting those high numbers on the polls and why they are flourishing when the pundit-consensus says they cannot win. No one, except the very partisan, is yet ready to say that either could win a presidential nomination. But these losers, to use a Trump term, are getting the biggest play in the polls, the most space in the media and casting the biggest shadow over all the predictions.
Both the DNC and the RNC consider them to be distractions that are not helping the party’s chances in November. But that is not the position of the voters, Democrat or Republican.
These two are tapping into something that our political leadership inside the beltway and on Wall Street obviously does not understand but the voters in primary states like New Hampshire and South Carolina do. Lacking a poll that asks: “why are you angry?” I have to argue from logic that it is the power of money in our political life. The money involved is considered even more obscene than the insults Trump threw at Megyn Kelly. Indeed, Trump’s base of support ignored the obscenity and stayed angry and with him. He judged them correctly.
The base is angry over the groveling for PAC money at the expense of political principle, be it conservative or liberal. The best example: Donald Trump threw a world-class insult at Hillary Clinton when he stated that he could and did summon her to his wedding because he gave money to her foundation. The FOX News debate audience cheered this attack. Similarly, the Koch brothers could summon five of the Republican candidates to audition for money.
Establishment power brokers must get a queasy feeling every time they have to reassure themselves that despite everything they see, neither of them can win. Should these professional politicians really be worried about a very rich clown who insults women in the crudest possible terms and a Democratic socialist who is so boringly serious he has not a single bit of humor in his hour-long stump speech? The answer is closer to yes than the professionals would like to think.
The blood hungry crowd is the angry base that candidates have to answer to. These are the people who knock on doors, care about the issues and vote their conscience, especially in primaries. No amount of money can replace the organization they provide at the precinct level. Republicans and Democrats both feel they have been betrayed by the party bureaucracies, by career politicians and, now more than ever, by the rich elite who bought their elected representatives.
The Supreme Court decision in Citizens United effectively ended controls on the amount of money that can be spent in a campaign. Unlimited PAC money was supposed to define this election in a new and undetermined way. Koch brothers stated their intention to spend $900 million on the campaign to elect Republicans. But that money has not yet begun to flow. So far, Trump and Sanders turned the money calculation around: Sanders because he’s pledged not to take PAC money and Trump because he reportedly has billions of dollars.
The controversy thus far in the campaign is not money-dependent. The Republicans want to focus on the FOX News debate to showcase their “deep bench.” They have instead been preempted by the anger behind Donald Trump’s big mouth, some of it very welcome. Bernie Sanders, starting from nowhere, is generating lots of what is called Bernie-mentum which will determine if he can stay in the race in the face of obscene amounts of money.