The problem with the GOP presidential debates is that the wrong people are on stage.
Sure, Bush, Cruz, Walker, and gang are the candidates, but the driving forces in this election have names like Mercer, Braman, Hendricks, Fernandez, and Cameron. They are part of a small but powerful coterie of multimillionaire corporate executives and billionaires who fund secretive presidential SuperPACs that can determine who gets nominated. These elephantine funders play politics like some superrich, heavy-betting gamblers play roulette – putting enormous piles of chips on a name in hopes of getting lucky, then cashing in for governmental favors.
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Thus, Robert Mercer, chief of the Renaissance Technologies hedge fund, has already put more than $11 million into Ted Cruz’s SuperPAC; Norman Braman, former owner of the Philadelphia Eagle’s football team, has $5 million down on Marco Rubio; Diane Hendricks, the billionaire owner of a roofing outfit and a staunch anti-worker activist, is betting $5 million on Scott Walker; Mike Fernandez, a billionaire investor in healthcare corporations, has backed Jeb Bush with $3 million; and Ronald Cameron, an Arkansas poultry baron, is into Mike Huckabee for $3 million.
These shadowy SuperPACs amount to exclusive political casinos, with only a handful of million-dollar-plus players dominating each one (including the one behind Hillary Clinton’s campaign). These few people are not merely “big donors”– they are owners, with full access to their candidate and an owner’s prerogative to shape the candidate’s policies and message.
These treacherous few are using their bags of cash to pervert American democracy into rank plutocracy. Why not put them on stage and make each one answer pointed questions about what special favors they’re trying to buy.