Down to money: the potential scarred martyrdom of Bernie Sanders

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 16: Senate Budget Committee ranking member Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. holds a news conference on the budget on Friday, Jan. 16, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. 
Photo courtesy of Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Josh Hart

Staff Writer

To many, Bernie Sanders has done the impossible.

Eclipsing the digitally groundbreaking campaign that netted President Obama more than $20 million, Bernie Sanders has been able to raise about $26 million just since July.

What’s even more remarkable is that Sanders has raised this money with absolutely no donations from any super PACs. All of it came through private donations from representatives of workers’ unions. It appears that Sanders is sticking to his word in regards to avoiding corporate sycophants.

The problem is, big money is next to impossible to avoid. $26 million is certainly a tidy sum of money, but it’s nothing compared to normal campaign money. For example, the 2008 Obama campaign cost $745 million. The John McCain campaign cost $333 million. Unsurprisingly, it’s only getting more expensive.

To expect Sanders to raise competitive funding through donations from right-to-work companies is absurd. If we are to assume that Sanders will continue to reject funding from super PACs, that leaves him with no other option but to simply borrow money.

This won’t free him of corporate influence, however. Not by a long shot.

David Wilhelm, campaign manager for Bill Clinton’s reelection, spelled it out further.

“It’s like this,” he said. “People running for office take out loans. If they win, they’re looking at a $400,000 annual salary. That’s not enough to pay off their debts, so what happens? Corporations swoop in, political committees swoop in, and they pay off those debts in exchange for a little political glad-handing later down the line, for the new president to look away from certain activities.”

So Sanders is damned if he doesn’t and damned if he does. He can except the corporate money now and lose support of countless hopeful millennials, or he could take the money later on and change his progressive platform to heed corporate whims.

It’s a shame that a positive ideologue like Sanders will undoubtedly be forced to temper his message because of the oligarchical conditions surrounding current presidential campaigns. Le changement est mort indeed.