I watched with profound sadness as Mitt Romney delivered a speech which will be in every history book in the twenty second century. It was a great speech; sincere, thoughtful, courageous. Clearly Romney felt he had to say what he said. And he meant every word of it.
What he did, of course, without realizing it, was to persuade millions of Americans that Donald Trump is the true anti-establishment candidate.
What he did was to confirm Trump’s theme that he is the only candidate who is not a part of the same-old--same-old Washington D.C. oligarchy of career politicians that so many Americans are sick and tired of.
One of the news channels went out on the street and started asking people what they knew about Donald Trump. Many said that he is a businessman. Some said ‘investor.’ Quite a few just said he is rich. The truth is that Donald Trump is a gambler. Maybe that’s the same thing as a businessman.
In the free enterprise system, a businessman invests his time, his money, his reputation, his hopes and his future on a plan – a scheme – if you will, to make a profit.
Plenty do it on Wall Street, leaving the day to day decisions to the managers of the enterprise. Others make big bets on big decisions. An NFL owner who pays a multi million dollar bonus to a 24 year old college quarterback, for example.
Insurance companies make huge gambles every day. And, of course, all the fat cats, the big money boys who hire lobbyists and donate big bucks to politicians, are gamblers, too. Maybe their candidate won’t win. Maybe he or she will turn out to be ungrateful.
Fiorello LaGuardia, the famous Mayor of New York, once said that his only qualification for public office was his monumental ingratitude. We all want public officials who are not beholden to moneyed interests.
Which is why thousands cheer when Donald Trump announces – as he so repeatedly does – that he is funding his own campaign. He insists that he is not beholden to the big money people. He is, as he says, “his own man.”
That’s a powerful argument among voters who are sick and tired of the special interest culture of Washington D. C. Trump admits that he has been part of that culture. He has donated to politicians of both Parties. He says that as a businessman, “you gotta do what you gotta do.”
But wait. Is Donald Trump truly funding his own campaign? Is he paying for the transportation, the hotels, the staff, the advertising, the red baseball caps? That word “funding” is a good clue. When I buy a house, I get the funding from the bank. Funding basically means “Who puts up the money?” It doesn’t mean “Who spends the money?”
Look at the records of the Federal Election Commission, and you will see that Donald Trump is loaning money to his campaign. Does anyone doubt that, if he wins the nomination, the Republican Party will pay off his Primary Election debts?
Of course they will. And Trump has made it perfectly clear that, once he is nominated, he will stop ‘self funding.’ So the campaign contribution flood gates will be open.
Here is a question I am waiting for the press or one of the other candidates to pose to Donald Trump: You have loaned millions of dollars to your campaign fund. You are a good businessman. You would not make a loan without insisting on some evidence of indebtedness. Where is the promissory note? What does it say?
And most importantly, what rate of interest is the borrower obliged to pay? Three percent? Five percent? In the world of free enterprise, interest rates typically reflect the risk of repayment. A long time veteran Congressman seeking reelection for the umpteenth time, may be able to borrow campaign funds at a low interest rate. But an untested outsider?
No sir, I have to believe that Mr. Trump has made a big gamble, and he expects to make a lot of money as the GOP candidate. Even if he loses the election in November.