Addressing the crowd, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks about addressing gun violence. Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

With the 2020 Democratic primary flaring up, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has shaken up the political world with an announced candidacy and a massive campaign ad spending spree in several states. Bloomberg is expected to spend millions of his own dollars trying to get himself elected. His entrance into the race raises questions as to the amount of power and influence the wealthy have over our political process.

Bloomberg’s ability to spend billions of dollars on his campaign means that his enormous fortune puts him at an advantage over other candidates. Studies consistently show that candidates that spend the most money are more likely to win. Through unlimited spending, Bloomberg will be able to receive votes not through political talent, but simply by flooding the airwaves with ads swaying voters.

This candidacy shines a spotlight on the larger problem of money in politics. Although there are limits on the total amount of money that individuals can donate directly to campaigns, there are no limits for donations to SuperPACs, which essentially work for campaigns. It’s ludicrous that within a democracy, billionaires have so much power to affect the results of elections.

The corroding force of money in politics also means that teenagers and young people have a much smaller say over elections. If those with the most money can buy their way to the top, then young people, who have the lowest amount of wealth of all generations, have the least power. Young candidates like Kerri Harris have had their political futures eliminated because they couldn’t withstand the tidal wave of money facing them.

Furthermore, our schools are directly threatened by the corrosive force of money in politics. Billionaires often use their power to support politicians who gut public education and teachers’ salaries. Because public schools rely on public funding to run, wealthy donors see defunding them as a tactical way to get a tax cut. Our country is worse off when power is concentrated in the hands of a few at the cost of institutions like public education that are important for our populace..

Regardless of what one may think of Bloomberg’s policy proposals or positions, there is no doubt that it’s a bad thing for our country when a single billionaire has the ability to transform an election through his sheer wealth. I don’t want to live in a country that is taken over by a select few. It is paramount for our future generations that we take our democracy back, before it is too late.