After weeks of talking in public to thousands of entitled voters, the bevy of presidential hopefuls say they are eager to get off the campaign trail and reconnect again with everyday billionaires.
“With all the handshaking and unseemly groveling for votes, it’s easy to lose sight of why you got into politics in the first place,” said Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who acknowledged that courting voters is a necessary if distasteful aspect of the current election process.
Walker estimated that a good 1/32 to 1/16 of his workday as governor and putative presidential candidate is spent trying to appeal to voters, time, he said, that should be devoted to looking out for the interests of those who got him into office in the first place.
The Wisconsin governor said the several Supreme Court decisions lifting restrictions on campaign finance laws and opening the way for an orgy of spending by well-heeled interest groups and super-rich individuals “is a step in the right direction.”
“But until we get voters completely out the campaign process, we’ll never be free of their undue influence,” Walker said.
Even beneficiaries of the current voter-driven system, like Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, say the process is rotten.
“The deck is stacked in their favor,” Clinton said of the voters who helped send her to defeat in 2008. “My job, the job all of us out here in this great boardroom of a country, is to reshuffle the cards.”
Clinton said she learned a valuable lesson from her 2008 presidential campaign, when in an effort win favor with voters and position herself as the populist candidate to the left of Barack Obama, she lost the trust of her Wall Street donors.
But that was then, and this is now, when everything Clinton does will be viewed through the lens of a family under the influence of big donors.
Robert B. Reich, a secretary of labor during the Clinton administration who has advised Clinton’s campaign, said the comparison with 2008 “personalizes it far too much.”
“This is a broad-based movement to take back our democracy and make it work for everybody, not just voters,” he said.
Other candidates, leery of what they view as the growing and unchecked power of voters, have been busy sounding the alarm on behalf of ordinary billionaires.
“In the past month, we have seen their liberty under assault at an unprecedented level,” Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas said earlier this week at a forum sponsored by the Iowa Corporate Freedom Coalition outside Des Moines. “If we can’t protect your money — our free speech — then we as a nation will have lost the very thing that makes our democracy unique.”

Philip Maddocks writes a weekly satirical column. He can be reached at pmaddocks@wickedlocal.com.