A Site for Scholarly Commentary, Debate and Media Resources for the 2016 Election

Student Voices

Why I threw my checkbook into the fight

There are a couple ‘demographic-y’ things you should know about me. I am:

  • a white Protestant male
  • a product of a middle class family
  • an official presidential campaign financier

If you’re still reading, I commend you. I mean, I am just the kind of person that gets under the collar of media types these days. Throwing my money around, undermining democratic process at every turn, probably not recycling ALL of my household waste…

And before you point the gun of liberal progressivism at me, let’s talk about campaign finance. I want to explain why I wrote that big ol’ check.

If you’ve watched the recent Democratic debate, you can see where I’m going. If we have to rely on this circus sideshow “debate” nonsense to discern who is the best candidate for the job, we’re not going to get anywhere. Martin O’Malley’s a soft touch; and Bernie Sanders is too afraid to bring up Hillary Clinton’s “email problem.” After an eternity onstage, you would have seen privileged people like me shaking their heads in disgust as sworn competitors (who should fight to the death, IMHO) literally patted each other on the back.

That’s why I threw my checkbook into the fight.

Never mind that my check was only for $5 and forward dated to Monday (you see Mondays are usually when my parents put “food money” in our account – we’ve already used our food stamps for the month and while we qualify for $450 in “nutritional aid”, it goes pretty quickly when you have two young mouths to feed).

Never mind that I wrote that check to go to Bernie Sanders’ campaign fund (even though I doubt he’ll win).

And never mind that I will probably never earn enough money to pay this or any of my other debts in this life — being a poor priest in a poorer parish will do that to you.

In spite of all that, I just am not sure I really believe in American “democracy” in quite the way I once did. I don’t want Bernie to go easy on the competition; I want to see him hungry for blood. Because when it comes time to take on racial injustice, economic inequality, the never ending war in Afghanistan and enemies of universal healthcare — when it comes time to fight the good fight — I want to see bloodlust in his eyes. I want him to fight to the bitter end. Because privilege is where I came from, and I know how hard it will fight to keep what it has.

I’m chipping in my five bucks because I want my vote to count more (okay, I’d like him to be tougher on gun crime and drone strikes, but $5 will only get you so much). It may not mean much when Trump’s procured some $4 million in “unsolicited donations” and Hillary’s waving around a whopping $30 million, thank you very much.

But it means more than one lousy crumpled ballot, right? And there’s not just me — there are lots of us who need people like Bernie to step it up. There are 120 million households in the US. Less than 200 of them are trumping up money for candidates — some $176 million so far — and they ain’t voting for Bernie, I can tell you that.

But what about the other 119 million or so households? What if they all coughed up $5 for Bernie? It may not be democracy in the strictest sense, but we’re kind of past that point.

Aren’t we?