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So What is Wrong with Steyer and Bloomberg Massively Funding Their Own Campaigns?

Not so terrible, unless we want the best to become the enemy of the good.

First- full disclosure. I am a retired political scientist who, in my salad days, back in the 80s and 90s, was a member and then Chair of the Connecticut State Ethics Commission. When my term ended I was appointed to a temporary state task force on #campaignfinancereform.

At that time (and this is still true) I favored public financing of political campaigns. But after extensive research, admittedly in those pre-internet days, I came to the conclusion that even that didn’t work so well, because money, like water, tends to seep around and under any barriers designed to curtail it. In the end, we all agreed that only direct media subsidies (without money flowing into the campaign) would work— a conclusion now probably out of date.

We could not have anticipated online fundraising- an amazingly positive contribution to American politics, even though we may not always like the results. On the other hand, the influence of #bigmoney remains pernicious- witness candidates who continue to deny that the climate is in crisis, almost certainly because they receive big donations from oil companies.

More controversial is the #self-funding of political campaigns. Yes, it is probably “unfair.” But short of massive campaign finance reforms that might or might not work, we should probably accept it. Tom #Steyer was funding Next-Gen America to register 18-year-olds across the country months before he announced he was a candidate for President. And he has pledged to continue his efforts even if he is not the candidate. #Bloomberg supported groups combating gerrymandering, and, as with Steyer, has pledged to continue funding the presidential campaign against Trump no matter whether or not he is the Democratic candidate.  

Let’s be honest, neither candidate is now at the top of the Democratic pack, although that could change. So, if Bloomberg’s money were to flow into registering young Hispanics in Texas, as my favorite new political prognosticator @RachelBitecofer would recommend, that would be amazing. Or if Tom Steyer used not only his money but also his considerable knowledge and 10 years of experience concerning the #ClimateCrisis to make the issue front and center in the elections it could force the eventual nominee to go way beyond just rejoining the #ParisTreaty and reducing emissions by 2050. But more on that later.