INTERNATIONAL

The best democracy money can buy

It takes a lot of money to keep the wheels of the U.S.’s democracy moving, and Americans are voting with their purses like never before. In the first three months of the Donald Trump presidency, it has been a windfall for all causes pro-Trump and anti-Trump.

Jon Ossoff, a 30-year-old political rookie, raised $8.3 million to contest a congressional election from Georgia as a Democratic nominee, after the seat was vacated by Republican Tom Price, who joined the Trump administration as Secretary of Health. In a seat that the Democrats have not won for four decades, he scored the highest, but fell short of the 50% mark required to win, last week. In June, he will face off against the second highest scorer. Each vote he won cost $87. The Democratic candidate in the November general election had spent only $346 for the entire campaign.

Those who opened their purses for Mr. Ossoff were doing it largely to teach Mr. Trump a lesson. But the combative, polarised politics in the country is filling the coffers of both parties. Congressional campaign committees of both parties have announced a record fund haul in the first three months of 2017, for the 2018 Congressional election, a 45% jump from figures two years ago. They have raked in $96.2 million in the last three months — Republicans $49.9 million and Democrats $46.3 million. This is above and beyond the fundraising by the national committees of both parties and that by individual candidates. The surge is primarily due to a massive rise in online donations of small amounts. High-profile, anti-Trump Democrats are receiving unprecedented amounts in donations — among them Representatives Keith Ellison and John Lewis and Senators Elizabeth Warren and Chris Murphy. Both Senators are potential Democratic challengers of Mr. Trump in the 2020 presidential election. As both are seeking re-election in safe States, the money they raise could be diverted to other candidates.

Wave of donations

Last year’s campaign had also triggered a wave of donations to progressive non-governmental organisations and the trend continued into the the initial months of the Trump presidency. Planned Parenthood, an organisation that provides affordable reproductive healthcare to women, will lose its financial support from the federal government, but its donor base has been swelling.

Mr. Trump’s own cash register for the 2020 election has been ringing non-stop for the last three months. There are three organisations raising money for the 2020 campaign — Donald J. Trump for President, Trump Victory, and Trump Make America Great Again Committee. Together, they have raised $13.2 million in the first three months of 2017. Now that ‘America is already turning great again’, the slogan for 2020 will be ‘Keep America Great,’ which has been trademarked.

Whether or not America becomes great, the President’s businesses are getting a real boost. These campaign organisations have paid nearly half a million dollar, to Trump buildings as rent in the last three months; during the last cycle, his campaign paid $12 million to his companies. He put $65 million of his money into the 2016 campaign, however.

Though this may be the best democracy money can buy, victory is not always a function of money. Shattered: Inside Hillary Clin ton’s Doomed Campaign , a book by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes released last week, is about how a candidate could lose despite outspending the opponent two to one. The Clinton campaign and groups supporting her spent more than a billion dollars, while Mr. Trump’s campaign and supporting groups spent more than half a billion dollars.

In the three months since he took over as President, it has been a windfall for all causes pro-Trump and anti-Trump as Americans are voting with their purses like never before

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