Though Donald Trump has been a gift that keeps on giving to millionaires and billionaires, the Globe has an article on how billionaire Seth Klarman is now giving money to Democrats. Klarman’s reasoning is…
“The Republicans in Congress have failed to hold the president accountable and have abandoned their historic beliefs and values,” Klarman said in a prepared statement to the Globe, opening up for the first time about the reasons behind his change in political giving. “For the good of the country, the Democrats must take back one or both houses of Congress.”
I’ll agree with Klarman that Democrats must take back both houses of Congress. But neither Sen. McConnell nor Speaker Paul Ryan have abandoned historic values of the Republicans–they have consistently used their power to redistribute wealth to the few at the top (like Klarman, Trump, Sen. Corker) which is EXACTLY what Republicans like Nixon, Reagan, and Bushes did. Trump has disrespected U.S. agreements with other nations just like Bush did with the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. So let’s not forget what Republicans really stand for has never been in the interests of the majority. Now some might argue that to take back the House and Senate, in the short term, it’s better that Democrats get Klarman’s money than Republicans do.
But in the long term, Klarman’s donations and influence will weaken the Democratic Party. Klarman’s business practices (buying debt with shell corporations) have harmed the people of Puerto Rico, where 200 plus schools have been closed, reducing the number of children who can get a decent lunch in addition to a free education. Because the Democratic Party welcomes people of all backgrounds (not so the other side), the people of Puerto Rico are important voters in our coalition whose well-being and rights Democrats must protect. If Democrats take Klarman’s money, it casts a shadow on our commitment to our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico.
Moreover, Klarman used $3 million of dark money to fund Question 2 in 2016, which would have harmed the public schools of Massachusetts. Question 2’s funding implications would have led to more public schools closing, and wealthy people like Klarman (and the Walton Family Foundation with its Wal-Mart money) still push this agenda. This agenda is bad for Americans and the Democratic party. The scholar Sally Nuamah studied how Chicago (under Mayor Rahm–who is not a good Democrat) closed schools in African American neighborhoods. She found that…
support among the African American community for the Democratic Party, specifically in areas where closures occurred, it decreased support in a really substantial way. People initially participate… they initially participate, and then they stop participating.In the election following the closures, which is 2015, people came out, but then you don’t see them come to the local elections after the general elections. [emphasis added]
Because public schools are civic institutions that provide a center to communities in addition to merely imparting knowledge, closing public schools decreased the participation of the voters there. This is a bad, regrettable outcome. As historian Jack Schneider has commented:
when you are closing a neighborhood school down are yougiving people a negative interaction with a public institution, but you are also then disempowering them in some way.You are failing to bring them into the fold, and in so doing you are ensuring that anunrepresentative form of government continues, which just makes it even more likelythat future policy decisions will be made that do not align with community interests.You can see this feeding back on itself over time, where people don’t feel attached topublic institutions and public life, are less represented, and as a consequence, end up being less attached to public institutions and public life.
Democrats have to protect public education (K-12 and college) and expand early education if we want to keep up the voter participation we need to win, to stave off the damage Republicans will do.
We call ourselves the Democratic Party for a reason: our mission is to represent the people, not the powerful few. If Democrats start to rely on money from Klarman and let just one person’s opinion outweigh the interests of millions of non-rich voters, we will stray from principle, and leave our voters and our country worse off. It happened in Chicago, and it can happen here.
“We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” – Louis Brandeis