It might have been the greatest story ever told. While addressing a swath of onlookers at a campaign stop in Iowa, Donald Trump told one great tale of his successes after another. From his refusal to accept the renewal of his television program with NBC to his refusal to accept a $5 million campaign contribution, Trump continually demonstrated to his fans how he acts in the interest of one man and one man only.
Before we talk too much about Trump, let’s have a quick refresher on politics in general. For starters, what is an interest group? Obviously the responsibility of an interest group is to make policy-related appeals to the government. But for whom are they making these appeals in representation of? To put it simple, the concept of this arrangement applies to all of us. When a business makes contributions to a political campaign it is intended to enhance the ability of that business to make products that are available for us to purchase and make life more comfortable or satisfying. The long-term outcome is the creation of jobs that pay us workable wages and allow us the opportunity to purchase the products we build. Often, many of the contributions paid to interest groups come from the employees of companies or others seeking better conditions or opportunities. At the end of the day, we benefit from interest groups through collective action.
However, there is a specter among the Republican Party. The specter is seeking representation in Washington without the interest of the American people or American businesses; the specter is Donald Trump.
According to FEC reporting, during the month of July 2015 Trump loaned roughly $1.8 million to his own campaign. Reported contributions from the same time period amounted to less than $100,000. From the same period, former New York Governor George Pataki raised about $250,000 from individual contributions. Of course, Pataki isn’t exactly bringing in the crowds in groves. However, using the financial reports as an indicator of who is a more formidable candidate, Pataki has Trump putting his entire game on a bluff. With a $1.8 million dollar debt from his campaign and a mere $100,000 in donations, even the smallest rat in the race has more of a following who are willing to put some skin in the game than that of the grand and glorious Trump.
Such results bring many questions regarding Trump and his candidacy to the table. For starters, if an interest group has the sole responsibility of representing the interest and the will of the public, then why would Trump claim to be the candidate who is representing the people if he is unwilling to accept contributions from them? His candidacy has no debt or obligation to the people. His only obligation at this point is to his $1.8 million loan to his campaign. Just as if he had issued a bond to his campaign for placing a skyscraper at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Trump is running his campaign in the self-interest of his debtors, not the American people who participate in a system of organizational society. Perhaps instead of asking about his lackluster policies, we should be asking the Donald, why he isn’t willing to accept donations from the Americans he claims to represent in favor of those evil self-interested politicians he loathes so badly.
For a final thought on Trump’s lack of statesmanship, consider the evidence. It is true that most Trump supporters claim to connect with his approach to eliminating the government by doing away with nasty politicians. However, what they are seeking to eliminate is not something inherent to our generation, but rather to our system of government as a whole. To illustrate Trump’s problems, we must consider our heritage and what made this country great from the beginning. The founding fathers believed that interest groups would thrive because of freedom. Interest groups represent Americans right to organize and express views in the public arena. There is some truth that factions could prevent liberty by organizations wielding too much power, but such beliefs were reasonably countered through theories advocated by James Madison who believed in political pluralism. Essentially, through pluralism, we can gain more through balance and compromise due to regulation of interest by each other than by a single party acting as a vanguard of our best interest. Such as Donald Trump, the candidate who claims to represent the people yet takes nothing from us and offers nothing in return. Haven’t we already experienced eight years of hearing from Barack Obama what is good for us? Without a doubt, Trump’s is hedging his bets on the same dominance Obama has used, not reciprocity.