PersonalCapital.com recently put together* an infographic concerning the personal net worth of the major political candidates as well as historical perspective on net worth of historical candidates. I thought this information was particularly poignant in light of my comments on why businessman Donald Trump is doing so well in current polling for the 2016 presidential election (as a brief aside, they report Mr. Trump’s net worth at just over $4 billion; BusinessInsider reports — based on FEC disclosure — the figure to be closer to $10 billion; the point is he’s quite wealthy).
While I don’t necessarily endorse the above-mentioned site, I wanted to use the opportunity to discuss another important topic: the real impact that exceptionally rich candidates play in political races.
Donald Trump rarely has a campaign stop or press conference in which he doesn’t talk about the concept that since he’s worth billions, he doesn’t need anyone’s money — and certainly not lobbyist or donor money (he’s quick to emphasize) — so that he therefore does not owe anyone (but himself) favors once he is potentially firmly ensconced at the White House.
At the same time, American politics has been dramatically impacted by the growth of such libertarian-conservative movements as the Tea Party, one significant point of which is to bring nearly daily awareness to average citizens of the goings-on of not just the District of Columbia, but virtually all political races at all levels of society.
If we bring both of these topics together, I think we approach a question that is rather stark to consider:
If a presidential candidate (we’ll stick with the top job for the purposes of this conversation) does not have a sizable net worth such that they have to have outside monies to make a run, does that mean that they have to make decisions — should they reach the presidency — based on what a particular donor demands of them at some point in the future? What if that candidate says “no” in the instance that such a theoretical demand goes against the best interest of the country (this is the point that Mr. Trump makes)?
ABC News reported that the Mobile, AL police department reported that Friday night’s “rally” had 30,000 individuals in attendance — the largest such gathering to date for the 2016 contest. Assuming that national and State polling continue on as they have, and assuming that this town of 100,000 can produce such a large gathering, and we extrapolate that throughout the rest of the country, then obviously something is resonating with Donald Trump.
Does this mean, then, that other equally viable candidates who possess a mere fraction of the net worth of Mr. Trump must listen to what their donors say (assuming such donations are not of individual sources of, say, less than $500), no matter what?
Or, could this be yet another new concept in politics: an exceptionally high net worth individual makes it to the White House and can literally do whatever he wants (such as what he believes is best for the country) because he owes nobody any favors?
Maybe Donald Trump will become the first candidate since the era of billion-dollar campaigns that makes it to the top office and shows what it means to be beholden only to the will of the country — assuming that he maintains this mindset.
*I’d like to thank a representative from PersonalCapital.com for having reached out to me over comments I made regarding what seems to keep Donald Trump high in the polls at this stage in the presidential race.