The smartest people in the room and the pragmatic adults lost to a reality show star in 2016. From wonky statisticians to seasoned journalists, almost everyone predicted a Clinton landslide victory. The Washington Post even asked Could Hillary Clinton actually win Texas?
Sure, Bernie Sanders was cheated (forcing Debbie Wasserman Shultz to resign and CNN to sever ties with Donna Brazile) but Hillary Clinton was the only person standing in the way of a “racist misogynist adored by legions of alt-right followers.” Ultimately, Hillary Clinton was able to spend a record $1.2 billion, while Trump only spent $600 million.
Did outspending Trump 2:1 help Democrats?
Ask the people stuck in airports last month from Trump’s immigration ban.
CNBC reported that More CEOs donate to Clinton than to any GOP candidate. In fact, Paul Blumenthal reported Clinton’s fundraising dominance in a Huffington Post piece titled Hillary Clinton’s Super PAC Has Raised More Money Than Any Super PAC Ever:
Nearly all of the money has come from seven-figure donors.
WASHINGTON ― Priorities USA Action, the main super PAC supporting Democrat Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, has raised and spent more money than any super PAC since the committees were sanctioned in 2010.
The pro-Clinton group raised a total of $176 million from January 2015 through Oct. 19. Its most recent report, filed with the Federal Election Commission on Thursday, shows the group raised $18 million in the first 19 days of October. This is the super PAC’s last disclosure before the next month’s election, but it’s not the final total for the campaign.
…Almost all of the money raised by Priorities USA Action has come from seven-figure donors. Of the group’s total $176 million haul, $157 million ― 89 percent ― has come from just 42 donors giving $1 million or more.
So, 42 donors gave $1 million or more, and Clinton still lost to Trump.
Imagine how big donors and Super PACs felt after losing $1.2 billion to a reality show star. Clinton outspent Trump 2:1 but still lost. The only consolation was winning the popular vote and even that might not have taken place had Clinton not outspent Trump 2:1.
Fortunately, Democrats have learned that record sums of money don’t translate to presidential election victories.
I explain in a recent H. A. Goodman YouTube segment why Democrats picked another Debbie Wasserman Shultz to lead the party:
Democrats just recently elected Tom Perez as DNC Chair, angering progressive voters who wanted Samuel Ronan or Keith Ellison. Tom Perez, as reported by The Intercept, has a “bank friendly record” and was soft on financial institutions found guilty of crimes. Perez is the Democratic establishment’s choice because he’s able to raise big money, and will be doing so in the future from corporations and Super PACs. The election of Mr. Perez coincides with Democrats scrapping Obama’s ban (that DWS quietly lifted) on corporate money.
First, Bernie Sanders already proved that ideals, not corporate cash, raise enough money to compete in elections. POLITICO found that Senator Sanders even outraised Clinton for three straight months in 2016:
Bernie Sanders’ campaign raised more money than Hillary Clinton’s for the third month running, bringing in almost $46 million in March.
The haul came from 1.7 million contributions from more than 900,000 individual donors, the campaign announced Wednesday night. The average contribution was $26.20, and more than 96 percent came from donors who have not reached their legal limit and can give again.
The campaign said it finished the month with about $17.5 million cash on hand, a little more than it started with, after spending $45.7 million. The cash outflow was much more than Clinton’s campaign, which spent $28.7 million, and was still more even when including the $11.6 million from Priorities USA, the super PAC supporting her.
Had Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Donna Brazile not sided with Clinton over Sanders, we wouldn’t have to worry about immigrant bans and walls. Bernie was raising more than enough money to be competitive, without giant Super PACs or mega-donors. With more debates initially, and with a DNC that didn’t conspire against him, Bernie Sanders would have won the Democratic nomination and presidency.
Unlike Clinton, progressives who voted for Jill Stein or stayed home would have flocked to Bernie on November 8, 2016. Many of the independents who picked Trump would have sided with Bernie. If anything, states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan (that haven’t voted GOP in presidential elections since the 1980’s) would have voted Democrat.
The trajectory of American politics would have taken a progressive turn, as opposed to a conservative resurgence. However, Democrats aren’t as concerned with winning, as they are about raising enormous sums of money. Ideals, like breaking up Too Big to Fail Banks or ending perpetual military quagmires, aren’t what motivates the average CEO to donate money.
For establishment Democrats, President Obama’s former Labor Secretary doesn’t need to ban fracking or implement Jill Stein’s Green New Deal. Simply pushing for environmental regulations is enough; ending fossil fuel consumption is nice, but that’s too extreme. Democrats can’t raise record amounts of money from Super PACs without being “pragmatic.”
Where did this pragmatism lead Democrats?
Thus, Tom Perez is the Democratic establishment’s choice to advocate incrementally progressive change, while at the same time raising large sums of money.
Congratulations, establishment Democrats. You managed to simultaneously destroy Bernie’s political revolution and elevate Trump into the White House.
The main problem with corporate and Super PAC money is that it doesn’t correlate with voter enthusiasm. Democrats raised a record amount of money, but lost progressives and independents, along with 53% of white women. This lack of energy gave Trump the White House and Republicans full control of Congress. The $1.2 billion Clinton used for advertising and campaigning resulted in Trump’s inauguration.
While Bernie Sanders focused on small donations of $27, and was able to challenge Clinton’s fundraising behemoth by championing progressive ideals, Democrats continued to focus only on money. As stated in The Hill, Clinton outspent Trump 2:1 on television ads:
Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and its largest outside supporter are outspending Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his allies by a nearly 2-to-1 margin on television ads this week as voters begin heading to the polls in battleground states.
The Clinton campaign and Priorities USA Action, the super PAC backing Clinton’s bid for president, are spending $29.3 million across 15 battleground states this week, according to ad buyers watching the market. Trump’s campaign and supportive outside groups are spending $15.8 million in 12 battleground states.
In swing states the Trump campaign has to win in order to capture the White House, the Clinton campaign has a massive edge.
Of course, Clinton lost the swing states she needed to win, but “Russian intelligence” couldn’t prevent Democrats from winning the popular vote. Wouldn’t it have been less expensive (and more productive) for Democrats to just push for single payer and try to ban fracking?
President Trump is a lot of things, but nobody can say he isn’t loyal to his voters. Trump doesn’t care if his policies are controversial; he sticks by Republican ideals. Democrats are the opposite, and abide by a 1990’s mentality fearing that America isn’t ready to ban fracking, or implement a single payer system. Establishment Democrats view themselves to be pragmatists and see Trump’s victory as an anomaly.
The truth, however, is that no amount of money will motivate independents and a great many progressive voters to side with a centrist Democrat. Television ads running throughout the day and night wouldn’t have given Hillary Clinton a victory in 2016. These ads won’t give Democrats a win in 2020.
Even after Clinton’s loss, progressives are being told by the establishment to “get in line” and accept a centrist in 2020, or a candidate unwilling to break up Too Big to Fail Banks, or ban fracking. Unfortunately, Democrats and the DNC haven’t learned any genuine lessons from Trump’s victory.
It’s about the ideals and value system, stupid, not the campaign donations.
Tom Perez as DNC Chair ensures that corporate and Super PAC money decide the future of the Democratic Party. Ultimately, this future will see eight years of Trump. Bernie Sanders and people like Samuel Ronan motivate voters by championing progressive ideals. The opposite is true with President Obama’s former Labor Secretary.
Mr. Perez is connected and will raise a great deal of money, but Trump will still win because his voters appreciate the president’s loyalty to their value system. Money can’t win ideological battles, and only someone willing to embody the antithesis of Trump’s value system, will ultimately defeat Trump. I explained this in 2015, but nobody listened to my warnings.
With today’s DNC and Democratic Party, ending perpetual wars in the Middle East simply isn’t pragmatic. Pragmatism, to most Democrats, means generating money and taking a centrist position on foreign policy, Wall Street, and other grandiose topics. Therefore, only tough love will save Democrats. Losing in 2020 might eventually break the Citizens United spell of big money overshadowing progressive values. Until then, Democrats and most liberal media seem content with abandoning Bernie Sanders’s political revolution of breaking up banks, banning fracking, ending perpetual wars, and refusing corporate money.