There is a simple formula to achieve business success: offer something for which people are willing to give you a lot of money. It can be anything that people are willing to pay for. That something can be automobiles which is how Henry Ford became rich. It can be a series of fantasy book which is how J. K. Rowling became rich. That something can even be political ideas which is how Bernie Sanders became a millionaire selling his book "Our Revolution". As a presidential candidate, Sanders exhibits his prowess as a political campaign fund-raiser. Sanders raised in $108 million so far in the current Democratic primary contest.
Politics is a business. By any financial measure, Bernie Sanders is very, very successful. His success goes beyond the money raised which he has declared in FEC filings as the Associated Press reported:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Bernie Sanders says he doesn't want a super PAC. Instead, he has Our Revolution, a nonprofit political organization he founded that functions much the same as one.
Like a super PAC, which is shorthand for super political action committee, Our Revolution can raise unlimited sums from wealthy patrons that dwarf the limits faced by candidates and conventional PACs. Unlike a super PAC, however, the group doesn't have to disclose its donors — a stream of revenue commonly referred to as "dark money."
Now, with less than one month to go before the Iowa caucuses, Our Revolution appears to be skirting campaign finance law, which forbids groups founded by federal candidates and officeholders from using large donations to finance federal election activity, including Sanders' 2020 bid.
In the 2016 primary election, Sander's catchphrase was "millionaires and billionaires". He accused millionaires and billionaires of corrupting the U.S. political system.
In his current campaign for the 2020 presidential election Sanders still excoriates billionaires, but he has stopped mentioning millionaires. In the eight 2020 Democratic debates he has not uttered "millionaires" once. He apparently is more sympathetic to millionaires now that he is one.
Sanders leaves no doubt that he thinks billionaires are bad people and their money is tainted. Sanders makes it clear that you should think so too. Sanders is such a purist when it comes to billionaires that he won't accept any political donations from billionaires, even though the maximum amount that they can donate to Sanders or to any political candidate is $2700 in an election cycle.
When Marta Thoma Hall, who is married to billionaire David Hall, gave $470 to the Bernie Sanders campaign, the Sanders campaign sent her money back. Bernie Sanders apparently believes he is incorruptible, so it's not clear to me why Ms. Hall's $470 would suddenly send him down a path of corruption.
I am not a billionaire, although it is not because of a personal animosity toward billionaires or an aversion to having a billion dollars. I don't even know any billionaires. However, I believe that there are good billionaires and bad billionaires just as there are good and bad people in every economic strata.
When a politician who says they won't be taking money from billionaires but try to guilt trip me into making a donation, my thought is damn, you turned down their $470 or $2700 donation and now you want me, with my modest income, to fork over my hard-earned cash to you?
Incidentally, why am I supposed to be mad at a self-funded billionaire candidate if I happen to agree with them on the political issues important to me?
Surely there are worse people than people than billionaires to hold in contempt. If a candidate is going to refuse money from a certain class of people, why not refuse political donations from child molesters, animal abusers or murderers?
I'd like to hear a politician announce that they won't be accepting any donations from people who earn less than the US poverty level which is $12,000 annually per individual or $25,000 for a family of four. After all, people who are struggling to make ends meet should spend their money on the essentials. They can show their support by voting. It is one vote per registered voter regardless of income.