It is hard to comment on candidates and political campaigns while remaining neutral, but that is exactly what I am trying to accomplish. So forgive me for spending these few sentences on the disclaimer. I have written for TheBlaze before in that same light, and I want to do so again. The following comments are meant to shed light on an aspect of Donald Trump’s campaign that seems to delve into the moral aspect of politics, which is my interest.
Though I too am frustrated with the Washington, D.C. “establishment,” I find the growing cynicism towards our political leaders to be detrimental for political discourse in the long run. I have spent my professional career advocating for men and women of character to enter the public policy sphere in order to change our country for the better.
[sharequote align="center"]I’m sorry, but that is not the moral high ground when it comes to money in politics.[/sharequote]
There are many good leaders, men and women of character who are working hard and sacrificing much to serve their country and their fellow countrymen. Instead of giving in to cynicism and giving up on “politicians,” I say we hold those who betray our trust accountable and give more of a voice to those who are committed to righteousness. (Yes, I know nobody uses that word anymore, but maybe it’ll spark some Google searches.)
On to Trump. It seems Trump is riding the moral high ground on the “money-in-politics” charade that is so popular today. He has mocked other candidates giving their websites for people to donate, saying, “I don’t have to give you a website because I’m self-funding my campaign. I’m putting up my own money.” This attitude has been praised by those tired of “the establishment,” as they see him as being above the usual political games.
Although others have shown he is not really self-funded because, among other things, he is still getting millions of dollars in “unsolicited contributions,” I admit that his attitude is appealing at first glance. But the reality is that if we think about it in light of what Trump has said about money in politics, he actually represents the worst of the money-in-politics problem.
Remember, Trump has also defended his donations to the Clinton Foundation saying, “I was a great businessman, and I gave to everybody. I got along with everybody, that was my obligation, and I got whatever I wanted.”
Donald Trump speaks at Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center at Iowa State University, Jan. 19, 2016. (Getty Images/Aaron P. Bernstein)
He has also been praised for that apparently. Donald Trump’s son, Eric, was recently on Fox News boasting on his dad for being a great businessman and giving to everybody to get what he wanted done in business.
But let’s think about this for a minute. Trump may be using his own money today in order to fund his campaign, but how was his massive fortune acquired? Well, by his own admission, by playing the political game! By giving to politicians in order to get “what he wanted,” whatever their political philosophy.
Think about that. They could be the worst of politicians, hurting the country by doing awful things. But Trump knew how to play the game and paid them to get what he wanted.
I’m sorry, but that is not the moral high ground when it comes to money in politics.
It is possible to have such a strong character and deep values as a politician that everyone knows your principles are not for sale, no matter how much anyone donates to your campaign.
Again, maybe Trump can do that. I am not advocating for or against your vote for Donald Trump. But I want us to be somewhat fair in our assessment of our political leaders and Trump’s “self funding” claim of moral superiority.
There is no shame in funding your campaign by using the support of those who believe in the values you represent. You see, there is another way of being a businessman. You can be a businessman who runs his company based on the deep values in which he believes. You can be a businessman who refuses to play the game and who is willing to pay the price of not abiding by what society and even the market demands of you.
Think of Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-A closing on Sunday, no matter how much money they stand to lose because their competitors are open.
You can, as a businessman, decide to support candidates who support the values that you want to promote in America. And there is no shame in a candidate taking that money because he already stands for those values.
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