Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump Are Both Peddling Myths About Money In Politics

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One of the most effective moments in Bernie Sanders' lengthy speech following his primary victory in New Hampshire was his call for donations.

After a characteristic denunciation of tax breaks for billionaires and proposals to cut to social services funded by wealthy special interests, Sanders, who has made campaign finance reform a defining issue for his campaign and who has repeatedly described money in politics as a kind of rot at the heart of American democracy, declared himself to be independent of such financial influence.

"I do not have a Super PAC, and I do not want a Super PAC," he said, before touting both the record 3.7 million individual contributions his campaign has received so far and the average contribution amount of $27. And he urged people to go to his website and donate. "I'm going to hold a fundraiser right here, right now, across America," he said on national television. "My request is please go to BernieSanders.com and contribute. Please help us raise the funds we need, whether it's 10 bucks, 20 bucks, or 50 bucks. Help us raise the money we need to take the fight to Nevada, South Carolina and the states on Super Tuesday."

Sanders wasn't just asking for financial support, like politicians always ask for financial support. He was asking for people to participate in an alternative to the system to which his campaign stands opposed. He wasn't just saying he believed that special interest money in politics was a problem, he was showing them how he would solve it—and how his supporters, through the unification of their individual efforts, could become part of that solution.

It's a clever pitch, and apparently very effective too. His campaign claims to have processed 2,689 donations in a single minute at one point that evening, and raised $6 million by Wednesday evening.

The problem with this pitch, however, is that Bernie Sanders is not exactly free from the financial backing of interest groups either.

Although there is no explicit Bernie Sanders SuperPAC, The New York Times reported at the end of January that "more super PAC money has been spent so far in express support of Mr. Sanders than for either of his Democratic rivals, including Hillary Clinton, according to Federal Election Commission records." Much of that money comes from labor groups, in particular, the National Nurses Union, whose political division had spent more than half a million dollars on Sanders by last December, even while insisting that their support is distinct from big-money support by true SuperPACs.

It's not. Just as Citizens United, the Supreme Court decision that Sanders rails against in his speeches, gave corporations the right to spend money in support of candidates, it also gave the same right to labor groups. And they have used it. As The New York Times also noted, unions gave more than $200 million to super PACs in 2012 and 2014, more than half of which ended up in the hands of union-controlled groups that funded advertisements and other media.

Sanders' opposition to big money in politics, and his simultaneous quiet acceptance of labor backing, makes sense for a democratic socialist leading what amounts to a progressive-populist uprising within the Democratic party.

Foter / Gage Skidmore

Clearly there is something powerful and compelling about the idea of financial independence for politicians, especially those who cast themselves as outsiders and revolutionaries, and just as clearly there is a broad suspicion about the influence of money in politics, and the ways it both influences and advantages political candidates.

What's especially interesting, though, is that Donald Trump is making a version of the same pitch too. Over and over again on the campaign trail, Trump has described his campaign as self-funded, and insisted that this means he cannot be bought.

The problem, of course, is that it's not really self-funded.

In October, The Washington Post revealed the existence of a pro-Trump Super PAC with multiple links to Trump and his campaign, though Trump's campaign claimed it was unsanctioned, and the PAC was quickly shut down. Either way, however, the majority of Trump's campaign is paid for by donations, and Trump is risking rather little of his own money in his presidential bid. Indeed, it's possible that sales of Trump merchandise may end up paying him back for the entirety of his personal investment in the race, according to The New York Times. 

Yet it's also true that both Trump and Sanders are operating campaigns without the same sort of hefty quasi-institutional backing that has gone to more traditional establishment candidates like, say, Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton. That complicates the Trump/Sanders message too. Because in that sense, the success of both Trump and Sanders is self-refuting—proof that big money in politics is not as powerful as they might have you believe.

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  1. I first thought that headline said “peddling meth”, then I looked again and realized, meh, close enough.

    1. That would have a much bigger net benefit to society than what they’re actually doing.

      1. Damn, beat me to it.

    2. “You got one part of that wrong. This is not free college.”

  2. This was a selection from a larger work titled “Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump Are Both Peddling Myths”.

    1. If they weren’t peddling myths they wouldn’t be winning.

      Is McSuderman suggesting we need camapign myth regulation?

      1. I’m for campaign regulation. Full Stop. That is, the Cincinnatus Act: For every year in office during on term, the elected must spend an equivalent amount of years behind a plow before he or she can run for any office again.

        1. must spend an equivalent amount of years behind a plow

          I’ve definitely seen a porno start like this.

        2. I’m in favor of the two-term limit: one term in office, one term in prison.

          1. I prefer a combination of the Chinese and Aztec approaches.

            From China, we should adopt that all high-up government bureaucrats need to be eunuchs.

            From the Aztecs, we should adopt that if the economy isn’t growing fast enough, the president undergoes mandatory bloodletting, with an amount and frqeuency dependent on how seriously in trouble the economy is. The traditional Aztec anatomical site at which the bloodletting is performed should provide an additional incentive.

        3. Someone here posted something brilliant a while back, but I can’t remember who it was. It was something along the lines of allowing Sanders to lead the nation for four years only if he can prove that he is able to successfully manage a McDonalds for four months.

          1. That would be easy, he’d raise all the salaries to $15+ per hour and stop paying the suppliers (or slow/under paying them) and refuse to perform any maintenance. That’s pretty much how every Socialist operates.

        4. Why not in front of a plow?

        5. How about in Jail for corruption instead? Or in front of a plow?

      1. Kermit was mythunderstood.

    2. This was a selection from a larger work titled “Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump Are Both Peddling Myths”.

      From the Time-Life series Things That Shouldn’t Need To Be Explained Yet Somehow Do.

  3. I don’t know why I’m supposed to feel better about millions of individuals wanting to steal from me instead of a handful wanting to do the same. Can some democracy fetishist explain it to me?

    1. It starts with “I” and ends with “ntentions.”

    2. Government is just the armed robbery we all commit together.

    3. If I understand these things well enough, CW, it’s us who are stealing from them for not donating to Bernie’s campaign and/or not supporting “Democratic” humanitarian policies.

      1. In partnership tax we’re learning about the substantial economic effect regulations that are designed to thwart the partners’ attempts to lower the partnership’s overall tax burden. I cringe every time I hear the professor state that these regulations ensure that the government gets its fair share.

        1. After class one day, tell him you’re going out to a nice dinner that night, but are a little short of cash, and that his fair share is $20.

      2. This logic that progs use is why i can’t stand them.

        1. You’re missing some scare quotes.

    4. Stealing is good when enough people support it.

      THIS IS WHAT PEOPLE ACTUALLY BELIEVE.

      1. When enough of the right people support it.

    5. It’s a little better than the only influence coming from the media, who, if they got to choose our elected officials, would have had us standing in line for a roll of toilet paper, for decades, now.
      That would be the result of no outside money in politics.

  4. Sanders wasn’t just asking for financial support, like politicians always ask for financial support. He was asking for people to participate in an alternative to the system to which his campaign stands opposed. He wasn’t just saying he believed that special interest money in politics was a problem, he was showing them how he would solve it?and how his supporters, through the unification of their individual efforts, could become part of that solution.

    It’s a clever pitch, and apparently very effective too. His campaign claims to have processed 2,689 donations in a single minute at one point that evening, and raised $6 million by Wednesday evening.

    The problem with this pitch, however, is that Bernie Sanders is not exactly free from the financial backing of interest groups either.

    JESUS CHRIST, NO!!!!

    The problem is that Bernie Sanders for his own campaign believes voluntary cooperation and the free market works, and then he proved it by getting people to voluntarily fork over $6 million – and he’s TOO FUCKING STUPID to see what he just did!

    1. Good point.

    2. …and he’d be behind laws that punish sweepstakes advertising, used car sales and swampland sales.

    3. not exactly free from the financial backing of interest groups either.

      Ah, “interest groups”. Your supporters are an “interest group”. My supporters are patriotic Americans banding together for the good of the nation.

      1. Yep. Like the difference between an “advocate” and a “lobbyist.”

    4. He also hates Uber for ideological reasons, but has used it during the campaign.

    5. I’m not sure if too stupid is correct.

      1. Are we talking about Sanders in particular or his followers? OH, never mind.

    6. That’s because Sander’s knows that he has the best of intentions, but those other guys are crooks out to rob every last American of what’s rightfully theirs.

  5. There’s no big money behind Trump and Sanders so that proves that money doesn’t influence politics?

    Weak, McSuderman, weak…

    1. That strawman didn’t put up much of a fight, did he?

    2. Are you retarded?

      There is big money behind Trump and Sanders, and the myth is them lying about that.

      1. There you go labeling individuals again.

      2. Are you retarded?

        Oh dude, I don’t know if we have time to cover this subject properly. He’s a special case.

      3. You can’t read. Do you have some sort of whine-to-text machine to post here?

        Concluding paragraph:

        Trump and Sanders are operating campaigns without the same sort of hefty quasi-institutional backing that has gone to more traditional establishment candidates like, say, Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton. That complicates the Trump/Sanders message too. Because in that sense, the success of both Trump and Sanders is self-refuting?proof that big money in politics is not as powerful as they might have you believe.

        1. …You haven’t even come close to contradicting his point. His point is that success in politics is not based on who spends the most, and that the success of Sanders and Trump is evidence of that fact.

          What about Suderman’s argument is wrong?

          1. The exception proves the rule?

            Good to see you have better reading comprehension than slow Nicole.

            1. “The exception proves the rule?”

              But there’s been quite a bit of evidence that the SPENDING isn’t what wins elections, it’s how many donors you have. Gingrich’s campaign was basically bankrolled by Sheldon Adelson in 2012 and got nowhere. Clinton had big money behind her in 2008 and lost to Obama, whose money came much more from small donors. In New Hampshire, Cruz and Trump both did well, and neither one spent much money in that state.

              Then there are people like Meg Whitman who spent enormous amounts of her own money and got killed in California.

              There’s minimal evidence the act of spending more money increases your odds of winning. That’s especially true since Get out the Vote drives are more effective in modern times than ads and are also cheaper.

              1. Yep i agree. I think Freakonomics makes this exact point.

                1. i think that book is too passe for a polite comment board.

            2. The exception proves the rule?

              Ah, a wonderful old saying that too many don’t understand.

              “Proofing” was a process of testing either to destruction or to a pre-set, very high level. Commonly used with firearms: A gun with a “proof mark” had been tested and passed.

              Thus, an exception that “proofs” the rule is one that shows the limits of the rule, not that establishes the validity of the rule. Sometimes exceptions invalidate the rule. Sometimes they show that it is valid only in limited circumstances.

              Whether the fact that Trump and Sanders are winning without using the usual fundraising and spending may prove, or disprove, or show the limits of the “rule” that big money wins elections. It certainly doesn’t validate the rule. It may or may not invalidate or show the limits of the rule.

              1. I believe that the original meaning was actually that the existence of an exception proves that there is a general rule that the exception applies to. The fact that an exception exists means that there must be a general rule that applies outside of the excepted situations. The original Latin (according to wikipedia) translates to “the exception confirms the rule in cases not excepted”.

                So “prove” in that saying is in the sense of demonstrating or confirming the existence of something.

      4. Just say Nikki|2.11.16 @ 1:46PM|#

        Are you retarded?

        There is big money behind Trump and Sanders, and the myth is them lying about that.

        Did they give you extra time on your SAT?

  6. I can’t do this shit today.

    I am going back to my reloading bench.

  7. Yet it’s also true that both Trump and Sanders are operating campaigns without the same sort of hefty quasi-institutional backing that has gone to more traditional establishment candidates like, say, Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton.

    And they are winning???

    Hmmmmmm?

    *Fd’A rubs chin*

    1. All the more reason we need to overturn Citizens United!

      /derp

  8. I guess i don’t understand why he is considered honest or authentic. Seems like another career politician who has become a populist demagogue that wants to give away free unicorns.

    1. You are clearly in the tank for Big Unicorn.

    2. He’s not a populist demagogue, he’s a socialist demagogue and he’s authentic because he’s always been a socialist demagogue even back when it was really unpopular (on a national scale at least) to be one.

      1. I guess when i consider someone authentic it is not peddling the same myths over and over. And exaggerating the boogeymen to win himself support

      2. Sanders isn’t a socialist, he’s a fascist. Granted, the end result is usually the same (jack boots, economic collapse, war, and death), but they are nevertheless still distinct political ideologies.

  9. How much of Ben and Jerry’s filthy corporate money has been spent in support of Senator Venezuela?

  10. I would literally pay bribe money to a journalist if they could get Sanders to explain to a national audience how Jeb Bush’s dismal failure to be electable despite having the biggest war chest jives with his theory that elections are bought by whoever spends the most. Likewise if they could get him to acknowledge that unions play the exact same financial role for him and the Democratic Party as corporations for Bush and co.

    1. I think that is why he only goes on controlled diatribes and doesn’t really have one on ones with actual voters. Does he even let others talk? He seems to get angry when people have called him out in the past

    2. Would like someone to ask why he is being greedy and needs all that campaign cash when there are starving children in this country?

      Also would like to act like a prog around his supporters and rip on them for donating to a politician as opposed to giving it to starving children…thus want them to die in the streets.

    3. Especially funny because the Democratic primary is clearly showing that the people actually standing against the will of the people are the parties. If Sanders loses, it may very well be because of Super-Delegates, not the super rich.

      1. I hope he does end up losing. The guy is getting a huge ego and being a socialist with delusions is dangerous. Hillary is just corrupt.

        I am hoping he gets berned in the south and midwest. Iowa and NH were hopefully his two best states in demographics.

        1. I’m hoping Bernie pulls it off. The public needs to see an outright Socialist make his spiel. Hillary will say whatever polls well to get elected. Sanders will actually say what he believes.

          And even in the unlikely event he won, Sanders isn’t power driven and corrupt like Hillary Clinton. He’s far less dangerous to the country than Hillary.

          1. Put another way, in my mind, Sanders is more like Lenin and Hillary is more like Stalin. This is one of the rare cases where I’ll take the ideologue over the pragmatist.

  11. Hey guys i am bernie sanders who is robin hood. Now give me all your money via taxes cause you are being greedy!

    Note: the government is in no way greedy

    1. The state doesn’t take out of greed, but love. It is because of your greed that the state, through its love, must take from you to support the downtrodden. See?

  12. Trump and Sanders. got it. I find it plausible Suderman is gullible enough to believe the others.

  13. https://www.opensecrets.org/pres16/

    Jeb Bush has spent $150m
    Trump has spent (at least in this accounting) like $30

    (and i’m willing to assume that’s probably only half of his real spending since he has a well of his own dosh)

    Bernie has also spent 60% less than hillary ($100m vs $160m)

    I don’t think any of this says anything about “Big Money” in politics, or funding sources, or whether spending your own cash (a la Trump) is any better than raising lots of money from individual donors (a la Sanders) or whether you suck cock in a Wall St alleyway (a la Hillary)

    It just shows that “spending” has zero correlation to “success”. It doesn’t matter how much money you have (like Bush) if you lack any compelling, differentiating message.

    1. Why does Bernie needed all that money?

    2. Bernie has also spent 60% less than hillary ($100m vs $160m)

      While I agree with your point, 100 is not 60% less than 160. It’s 37.5% less.

  14. When they say 3.7 million contributions…does that mean 3.7 million individuals necessarily?

  15. Up to I looked at the draft which was of $7319 , I be certain …that…my neighbour was like they say realie receiving money part time at there labtop. . there moms best frend started doing this less than and just paid the mortgage on their apartment and bought a gorgeous Lexus LS400 . site here……..

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  16. Nurses Union supports the guy who wants Single Payer?

    I guess they want to make sure their wages aren’t cut, which insures that our Single Payer will indeed be more expensive than Europe’s so what’s the point?

    1. Surely you don’t think the nurse’s union cares about cheaper healthcare…?

  17. “proof that big money in politics is not as powerful as they might have you believe.”
    or it’s proof it’s so powerful its deceived you. “the greatest trick the devil ever pulled is convincing mankind he didn’t exist”, or something like that.

  18. I just threw out a shitload of old Reasons, figuring I could always search the archives, & now they’re behind a pay wall! They weren’t taking up that much space, but my landlord wanted me to clear out a lot of stuff, saying NYFD looked while they were doing repairs & said it was hazardous, so I did a fair amount of work emptying filing cabinets (to make space for other things). And now 3 mos. later, I think he was shitting me.

    1. Reason archives are now behind a paywall? Cripes, what’s the point of being lackeys of the Kochs if you can’t give away your propaganda for free?

  19. I am not so worried about money spent in campaigns because that can be pretty ineffective. Just ask Jeb Bush. Lobbyists are what needs to be done away with. Why do politicians fight to get on select committees. Because that is how they get richer. GE spends over 30 million a year lobbying. I am pretty sure that some of that ends up in our elected officials pockets. When the FBI gets to the bottom of the Clinton foundation you will see how corrupt our political system is.

    1. “When the FBI gets to the bottom of this. …” Your comedy skills are superb. I almost spit out my coffee laughing when I read that. I heard a clip this morning from the Democratic debate of Hillary defending Obama’s honor from mean old Bernie, and thought to myself, she should just go blow him in person. Clearly she’s spooked by the FBI, but I’m confident they’ll sacrifice a lackey and have a good laugh about this in the back room.

  20. Up to I looked at the draft which was of $7319 , I be certain …that…my neighbour was like they say realie receiving money part time at there labtop. . there moms best frend started doing this less than and just paid the mortgage on their apartment and bought a gorgeous Lexus LS400 . site here……..

    Click This Link inYour Browser….

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  21. Well excuse me, I thought they were peddling myths about, well, _everything_.

    But not to worry- since everyone who votes is a total, frickin’ moron anyway, so myth peddlin’ ain’t a problem.

    Therefor, more myths/fantasies the better, I say. [Bring em on Don, Bernie etc.] 🙂

    “In your dreams, Donald Trump is not a fraud,
    In your dreams, Sanders is not a fraud,
    In your dreams, all the rest are not frauds,
    In your dreams, the constitution is not a fraud,
    In your dreams, the federal reserve is not a fraud,
    In your dreams, social security is not a fraud,
    In your dreams,welfare is not a fraud,
    In your dreams, 9/11 was not a scam,
    In your dreams, the war on terror is not a scam……,”

    Lyrics from “Dreams [Anarchist Blues]” :
    http://onebornfree-mythbusters…..-scam.html

    Regards, onebornfree.

  22. There’s a very big difference between taking money from labor unions, and taking money from corporations and the rest of the elite. Unions support, represent, and are funded by working people. Corporations? Not so much.
    Working people is what most of us are in this country, and working people, and the economy, do better when unions are strong. This is a “demand” economy, not a “command” economy, which is why funneling money the the wealthy hasn’t helped working people, or the economy as a whole. Even a lunatic like Henry Ford understood that.

    1. “Unions support, represent, and are funded by working people.”

      Then you gave the answer “Corporations?” The question Alex is “What are unions?” I win final Jeopardy.

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