Cap­i­tal reigns supreme in US elec­toral pol­i­tics

Global Times - - Editorial - By Wang Wen­wen

For­mer New York mayor Michael Bloomberg is re­port­edly plan­ning to con­tend the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tions rep­re­sent­ing the Democrats. Can this busi­ness news mogul copy the model of Don­ald Trump and en­ter the Oval Of­fice with his $51 bil­lion plus for­tune?

Amer­ica watch­ers are well aware of the fact that the tide of cap­i­tal swelling around the coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal sys­tem is ris­ing, and the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion was de­fined by cap­i­tal more than any other in re­cent his­tory.

With the power of cap­i­tal, busi­ness elites are be­ing pushed to the fore­front. They can get more ac­cess to con­nec­tions with politi­cians and po­lit­i­cal elites, and have their images re­shaped and pro­moted. This is the in­vis­i­ble “cap­i­tal” that those with­out the power of cap­i­tal can­not get.

Bloomberg, the fi­nan­cial news data bil­lion­aire, is look­ing at his chances. His po­ten­tial ri­vals are not Demo­cratic Party po­lit­i­cal picks, but other wealthy busi­ness-peo­ple toy­ing with pres­i­den­tial runs, ac­cord­ing to me­dia anal­y­sis. They in­clude for­mer Star­bucks chair­man Howard Schultz and in­vestor and bil­lion­aire lib­eral ac­tivist Tom Steyer.

It can be seen that while US pol­i­tics used to be a game of prox­ies, now it has be­come a game of cap­i­tal. Ever since the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion chal­lenged the po­lit­i­cal es­tab­lish­ments of both Demo­cratic and Repub­li­can par­ties and ended in per­haps the most shock­ing up­set in US po­lit­i­cal his­tory, the game of cap­i­tal has been brought from un­der the ta­ble into the spot­light. Peo­ple no longer avoid talk­ing about the ef­fects of cap­i­tal in the US po­lit­i­cal realm: man­i­fold and direct.

If Bloomberg wants to stand out in 2020, he can learn from Trump’s path. For the busi­ness elite, solid fi­nan­cial sup­port is a core as­sur­ance for win­ning in a po­lit­i­cal con­test, and the for­tune of Bloomberg is enough to hum­ble Trump. In the US, cap­i­tal is not a guar­an­tee of be­ing elected, but the will of cap­i­tal can play a de­ci­sive role in US pol­i­tics. Po­lit­i­cal power must cater to the in­ter­ests of cap­i­tal and big cap­i­tal­ists or even serve them.

This is also what drives the US do­mes­tic and global strate­gies such as the in­ter­est rate rise by the Fed­eral Re­serve, pulling man­u­fac­tur­ing back to the US, scrap­ping the Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship and seek­ing bi­lat­eral talks that serve “Amer­ica first.”

Trump’s China pol­icy also de­rives from this men­tal­ity. By am­pli­fy­ing trade dis­putes with China and urg­ing China to fur­ther open its mar­ket, Trump wants US cap­i­tal to over­take the Chi­nese mar­ket. It is a fi­nan­cial as well as a po­lit­i­cal risk that China needs to bear.

Cap­i­tal has al­ways been a tool for geopol­i­tics. The trade war with China is not the last scene of Pres­i­dent Trump’s drama. We can cer­tainly ex­pect more.

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