Billionaires are lining up to fund Donald Trump’s anti-democratic agenda

The more disturbing Trump’s public proclamations become, the more US plutocrats seem to want him to win

By Robert Reich
Nov 21, 2023

As an ever-greater portion of the nation’s total wealth goes to the top, it’s hardly surprising that ever more of that wealth is corrupting US politics.

In the 2020 presidential election cycle, more than $14bn went to federal candidates, party committees, and Super Pacs – double the $7bn doled out in the 2016 cycle. Total giving in 2024 is bound to be much higher.

That money is not supporting US democracy. If anything, that money is contributing to rising Trumpism and neofascism.

There is a certain logic to this.

As more and more wealth concentrates at the top, the moneyed interests rationally fear that democratic majorities will take it away through higher taxes, stricter regulations (on everything from trade to climate change), enforcement of anti-monopoly laws, pro-union initiatives and price controls.

So they’re sinking ever more of their wealth into anti-democracy candidates.

Donald Trump is going full fascist these days and gaining the backing of prominent billionaires.

Earlier this month, on Veterans Day, Trump pledged to “root out the communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical-left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country”, whom he accused of doing anything “to destroy America and to destroy the American dream”. (Notably, he read these words from a teleprompter, meaning that they were intentional rather than part of another impromptu Trump rant.)

Days before, Trump claimed that undocumented immigrants were “poisoning the blood of our country”. The New York Times reported that he was planning to round up millions of undocumented immigrants and detain them in sprawling camps while they wait to be expelled.

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Trump has publicly vowed to appoint a special prosecutor to “go after” Joe Biden and his family, and has told advisers and friends that he wants the justice department to investigate officials who have criticized his time in office.

This is, quite simply, full-throated neofascism.

Who’s bankrolling all this? While Trump’s base is making small contributions, the big money is coming from some of the richest people in the US.

During the first half of the year, multiple billionaires donated to the Trump-aligned Make America Great Again, Inc Super Pac.

Phil Ruffin (net worth of $3.4bn), the 88-year-old casino and hotel mogul, has given multiple $1m donations.

Charles Kushner (family net worth of $1.8bn), the real estate mogul and father of Jared, who received a late-term pardon from Trump in December 2020, contributed $1m in June.

Robert “Woody” Johnson (net worth of $3.7bn), Trump’s former ambassador to the United Kingdom and co-owner of the New York Jets, donated $1m to the Maga Pac in April.

And so on.

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