"Donald Trump Didn't Spend Enough of His Own Money to Win the White House. I will show him!"
Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are screaming that former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg is trying to “buy the Presidency!”
“Go ahead,”they should say. “Make my day.”
Seasoned political people know campaigns with the most money win 87% of the time. That applies to national, statewide, congressional, state legislative and municipal races across the country.
What is less well-known is that under 24% of wealthy candidates who fund their own campaigns ever win. In 2016, that number was a paltry 12.5%.
Donald Trump could havebankrolled his entire 2016 presidential campaign by himself. He goofed allthe major networks into giving him $5 billion in free advertising instead. President Trump spent $5 per vote, the lowest amount of money per vote received by a winning presidential candidate in modern campaign history.
Hillary Clinton spent almost twice as much, over $9 per vote, and lost.
What gives? Why doesn’t every rich person who pours their personal wealth into a campaign win if 87% of the time the campaign with the most money wins?
First,most self-funders are new to electoral politics. They think because they are wealthy, they can take their talents from the private sector and instantly be successful in the maelstrom of politics.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Almost all newcomers who run for office lose the first time out. George Washington lost his first race for the Virginia House of Burgesses because he failed to spend the most money on alcohol on election day for his supporters. So did James Madison.
Think of it as “Campaign Finance, 18th Century-Style”.
Second, the candidate has to be likable. Third, the rich person has to connect with average folks and not be distant, aloof and separated from the voters. Fourth, the rich person has to run a campaign based on issues people care about, such as their job and quality education for their children.
Most successful self-funding businessmen who enter politics want to talk about budgets, disintermediation and foreign policy, none of which are on the average voter’s Top 50 list.
The most important reason why self-funders lose is that rich people who spend millions of their own money to win a campaign give off political pheromones to registered voters that scream: “I DON’T NEED YOUR MONEY AND I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY!”
Average voters don’t like rich people lording their wealth over them.They believe rich people areinsulated from the stresses and agonies of life regular people go through daily.
One group of people do love self-funders, however: political consultants. A general consultant can make 15% off ad buys plus millions for direct mail and social media placements. Tapping into one source of big wealth such as Bloomberg’s is far easier than calling thousands of people who are limited to $2,800 contributions by current campaign laws.
Who wouldn’t want to make 15% off Bloomberg’s billions?
Former GOP political consultant Lee Atwater, God rest his soul, explained the dilemma for self-funders this way: “I would rather get $1 from 100,000 people than $100,000 from the candidate. If a person can only contribute $1 to any campaign, they are not going to vote for anyone else because that $1 means something to that voter. Money is fungible; it can come from anywhere. Votes can’t. They have to come from registered voters in your district or state. That is what I am after; votes, not just money”.
On the other hand, Lee was also fond of quoting former Speaker of the California State Assembly Jesse Unruh, who said: “Money is the mother’s milk of politics.”
Which it is. Eighty-seven percent of the time, it produces a victory. However, chances are very high that Bloomberg may blow $1 billion of his personal wealth and not even secure the Democratic nomination.
When Bloomberg loses — or Tom Steyer, for that matter — consider their personal investment in their campaigns an “economic stimulus package.” To their campaign handlers and to the TV stations who will love their money.
“The will of God prevails. In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be, wrong.
“God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time. In the present civil war, it is quite possible that God’s purpose is something different from the purpose of either party —and yet the human instrumentalities, working just as they do, are of the best adaptation to effect His purpose.
“I am almost ready to say that this is probably true — that God wills this contest, and wills that it shall not end yet. By his mere great power, on the minds of the now contestants, He could have either saved or destroyed the Union without a human contest.
“Yet the contest began. And, having begun He could give the final victory to either side any day. Yet the contest proceeds.”
President Abraham Lincoln wrote this private note to himself after 17 months of a brutal civil war amongst his fellow countrymen. He slipped it into the front drawer of what is now known as “Lincoln’s desk”and periodically would pull it out to read and meditate on its meaning and his role as a public servant elected leader of this country.
Three years later, on March 4, 1865, Lincoln delivered his sublime Second Inaugural Address to the nation which many experts consider to be the greatest speech ever given. At roughly 700 words, it was almost three times the length of his Gettysburg Address which the same experts consider to be one of the top five speeches of all time.
Lincoln amplifies on his same thoughts as in his private Meditations on the Divine Will note to himself.
“Four years ago, all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. …Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came. …
“Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. …The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. …Yet, if God wills that (this war) continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said,‘The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.’”
What if the same could be said of today’s political polarization in America? What if both sides pray to the same God asking for deliverance and victory in their political fight against the other side…and neither side is deemed “righteous”to be granted victory?
What if God continues to “allow the contest to proceed”? Can we, as a country, survive as a free democratic republic much longer as a “house divided,” which is from yet another great Lincoln speech?
How would Abraham Lincoln navigate today’s treacherous polluted political waters if he were leading our country today?
“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
We all need personal meditations. Try Lincoln’s Meditation on the Divine Will for this Thanksgiving season. We could use some malice toward none and charity to all right now.
Eighty-one years ago, they were scheduled to play the seventhgame during Duke’s magical undefeated, untied and unscored-upon 1938 season. Syracuse almost had to play short-handed without their best player, running back WilmethSidat-Singh.
He only played because Duke’s legendary Coach Wallace Wade did the right thing so his Iron Dukes could play Syracuse at full-strength, not less than their very best.
Wallace Wade was a very conservative Republican, a man of strong principle and a patriot beyond being one of the great college football coaches of all time. He said his greatest disappointment in life was not being allowed in the first wave of the Normandy invasion on D-Day, June 6, 1944.
The Army said he was too old.At age 52.
He was a close friend of Sen. Jesse Helms and brave Republican politicians who dared to run in heavilyDemocratic North Carolina over the years.
Wade was born in 1892 in rural Trenton, Tennessee. He went on to become a feisty, 150-lb guard on Brown University’s 1916 Rose Bowl team.
Coach Wade blocked for Fritz Pollard, who was the first black running back named All-American. Pollard went on to become one of the first two black NFL players and then the first black head coach in 1918.
They also became close friends.
In 1938, a “gentleman’s agreement” existed where Northern colleges who had black players would hold them out of the games against all-white Southern college football teams such as Duke or Carolina if requested.
Several weeks before the Nov. 12 game, Syracuse officials cabled Coach Wade to inquire as to whether they should bench Sidat-Singh for the upcoming game at Syracuse.
Sidat-Singh was born to AfricanAmerican parents. When his father died, his mother remarried an Indian physician who gave Wilmeth his last name. Most everyone thought he was Indian, not AfricanAmerican.
Sidat-Singh was a great back who could throw, presaging today’s game where a running quarterback such as Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson can dominate a game.
Coach Wade wired back that Duke had no objections even though “a previous contract states that he will not be allowed to participate against Duke.”
Before the game, Wade said,“If he doesn’t play, no matter what the score is, we’ll get no credit for winning.” Wade had won three national titles at Alabama in three Rose Bowls in 1925, 1926 and 1930 before coming to Duke in 1931. He demanded the best. Always.
“If you are not good enough to play in the Rose Bowl, you are not good enough to play in any bowl” he would tell his team at the beginning of each season.
Sidat-Singh was allowed to play and there were no incidents or fights reported during the game.Coach Wade had instructed his players to treat Sidat-Singh as they would any other white player: Keep anyone in a non-Duke blue uniform out of the endzone regardless of skin color.
After the game, which Duke won 21-0, press accounts reported that Sidat-Singh went over to the Duke bench and shook the hands of Duke co-captains Dan Hill Jr. and Eric Tipton, which had to be noticed by everyone in the Syracuse stadium.
Coach Wade could have declined to play Syracuse had Sidat-Singh played.Duke players could have caused a huge ruckus and media incident by refusing to play or shake his hand after the game.
Coach Wade would have none of it. He played with and respected Fritz Pollard from his Brown University days. He knew that great football players were great because of their talent, not their skin color. His Duke players knew that to disobey, embarrass or, worse, disappoint Coach Wade would have been the kiss of death for them and the end of their careers at Duke, right at the very end of what was a magical season for them and the university.
Coach Wade’s decision exemplified what the essence of America should always be about: a free country where the content of someone’s character and talent matters far more than the color of their skin. And winning.
When Mrs. Powel asked Benjamin Franklin at the end of the Constitutional Convention at Philadelphia in 1787 what sort of government they had created, he replied: “A republic, if you can keep it.”
A “democratic republic” he meant. A democratic republic literally means “Public Thing of The People” from its Latin and Greek derivations.
It does not mean “Public Thing Run By A Few People.”
America is a “representative democracy” where free people get to elect representatives who thengo to Washington, D.C., and state and local assembliesto vote on our collective behalf.
The founders wanted to create a connection — a fabric of democracy, if you will — between all voters and all elected representatives. All of them. Not just a few.
Had the founders wanted to delegate representational redistricting and reapportionment duties to a few select people, they would have put it in Article II or III of the Constitution, not Article I which outlines legislative powers, not executive or judicial powers.
Voters used to have the assurance that the person they voted for in the first election of each decade to represent them in Washington or Raleigh would be the same person, if repeatedly elected, they could vote for during the next four elections before the next census.
That went by the wayside in North Carolina in 1981 when new districts were drawn under the Voting Rights Act by Democratic majorities in the NCGA.Congressional maps that would make Picasso proud were drawn to protect Democrat incumbents and allow minorities a better chance to get elected in one of those Democrat districts.
Gerrymandering in North Carolina did not start with Republicans in 2011. In 1980, Democrats held nine of the 11 Congressional seats in North Carolina. The only reason they didn’t have 11 Democrats in Congress was because they packed as many Republicans as possible in the 9th and 10th districts to get them out of the other nine districts to protect Democrat majorities.
Starting in the 1980s, Republicans litigated to redraw more fair and balanced congressional districts which continued through 2010. North Carolina produced dozens of new congressional maps during that time.
Since 2011, Democrats have run to the courts to demand multiple congressional map redrawings. If the NCGA does not produce a new map that the three Superior Court judges on the specialpanel approve by Dec. 15, then there is the possibility that the courts will appoint a “special master” to draw the districts.
Superior Court judges are not elected statewide. Most need less than 50,000 votes, or about 0.5% of the state’s population, to get elected. Many are appointed to fill an open seat by the governor. Three people in the state might get to choose what is “right” and “fair” in redistricting rather than the legislative body that was elected by the entire state. Appointing a special master reduces the massive responsibility of redistricting into the hands of just one person, not the 170 elected representatives and senators in the NCGA.
Voters need time to get to know their elected representatives. They might need help on passports and visas or getting their Social Security checks straightened out.They need to see the voting history of their representative over time. They might even get to shake his or her hand along the way.
Repeated legislative redistricting and map reconfigurationsleads to voter disengagement and disenfranchisement from their elected representatives. Many people have no idea who their elected representatives are anyway; repeated redrawing of districts confuses them even further.
No wonder so many people are disenchanted with politics. Many stay at home as a result and don’t vote anymore.
Court-mandated redistricting in 2019 based on 2010 census data is a peak of absurdity. Do it in 2021 based on 2020 census data.
It is time for both sides to stop the weaponization in the courts over our political redistricting process. Go back to the days of constitutional integrity: take a decennial census, redraw the lines and be done with it until the next census is taken.
Our democratic republic, and Ben Franklin, will thank us for it.