The New Wealthy Politicians

Wealthy Illinois governor's race candidates (from left) Chris Kennedy, incumbent Bruce Rauner, and JB Pritzker

Politics is a strange animal and perhaps a necessary evil that keeps on coming. Politics is the art of doing, sometimes obvious and sometimes not so obvious.

Politics is the pavement you travel on to reach the government seat. The campaign creates the image, the platform, and the commercials to appeal to people to create the win.

Politicians sometimes have a dirty rep, because it is rare when what they say on the campaign trail actually comes to fruition when they take office.

Politicians like to say what they think people want to hear, as opposed to telling the truth, because the bald faced truth is not always easy to recite. Democratic candidate for governor Chris Kennedy is running into this element as he speaks truth to power, as he tries his political hand.

The Trump Factor
Donald Trump was quite the campaigner in his race for the American presidency; he is a super salesman and has impacted the modern day political landscape. He is a New Yorker, high-end property, real estate salesman.

He knows how to make it pretty, he knows how to make it appealing, he knows how to wine and dine. He knows how to give it street appeal.

Trump took on 19 opponents in his presidential campaign and knocked them off one by one, 18 men in his party and one woman in the opposing party. He has proved that celebrity media savvy works.

Trump’s formula was to give everybody a nickname and then ridicule him or her over a weakness or a flaw. He often lied and fabricated and twisted political facts. Truth was not a necessity in the Trump formula.

The American public has an attention span of about a minute, so Trump didn’t buy a lot of commercials because he knew how to be attractive to the news media daily and nightly. He owned the news on all the stations to the point that his campaign ran like a soap opera. The public loved it.

His team understood algorithms. He has mastered the new age media, short and sweet and to the point. With the power of the tweet, who needs to govern with position papers? Just tweet.

Michael Wolffe’s book Fire and Fury reveals that billionaire Trump was shocked when he won the presidency. He was actually running to heighten the Trump brand name for himself and his entire family, thinking that anything that they licensed their name to would be successful – from toothpaste to tall buildings across the globe.

Another big revelation in the book is that Trump and the first round of White House staffers had not a clue as to what government was about. Why does a billionaire run for office in the first place? There is a new trend in American politics that begs the question.

In one sense it is noble, because that political person does not need to raise the funds to mount the campaign. So the thinking is that he unbeholden; he is free to execute his great ideals. This was my personal thinking when I supported wealthy investor Bruce Rauner in his first political effort, which was running to be governor of Illinois.

But politics for the rich is very different than politics for the common person. The values, the magic for the run, are different. The rich guy wants the power and/or leverage for perhaps the riches of the office for his own class that is immediate and futuristic. Trump’s changes to the tax bill, for example, benefit his wealthy compadres the most.

Politics used to be a noble cause where the old school rich pursued the office in the name of public service. Not any more.

Illinois Politics
In Chicago and Illinois politics, a new trend has emerged. The rich are running and the common person like Joe/Jane Blow has been sacrificed because the rich guy has driven the stakes of campaigning so high that you cannot compete in spending.

It is a daunting challenge for the average candidate to raise the big bucks it takes to beat family fortunes. I wonder what a Richard Daley campaign would look like against Rahm Emanuel.

New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller (left) and President John F. Kennedy.

However the best politician, I still think, is Mr. Joe Blow or Ms. Jane Blow, who wants power for the good of the people. Examples of those kinds of politicians would be Congressman Luis Gutierrez, Mayor Harold Washington, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, Senator Emil Jones, President Barack Obama, State Senator Donne Trotter.

Politics used to be a noble cause where the old school rich pursued the office in the name of public service. Those were the Roosevelts, Rockefellers and Kennedys, who have been among the richest to hold public office, but who engaged in great pubic service.

Enter the rich nouveau political figures as they work minority communities. Even with their money, they insult as they visit churches, community organizations and the like as they try to relate.

Illinois governor’s race is a prime example. Incumbent Governor Rauner and Democratic candidate JB Ritzier are spending on average $150,000 per day on media. I wonder who downtown media will endorse? In the meantime, little to no money is going to Black media. The candidates absolutely insult the Black press as they court the Black vote.

Rauner is totally ignoring Black media – not enough votes are to be gotten in the Black community this time around, probably is the thinking to justify not spending with Black media.

Pritzker’s campaign so far has offered so little to selected Black press that one South Side newspaper said thanks to the little tiny ad, but no thanks. That publisher said the little peanuts you’re offering is an insult. As for me, I probably write too strongly and candidly for N’DIGO to be considered.

Pritzker’s Black overseer tried to pick Chicago’s Black media off one by one. He said he was from Atlanta and he told Mr. Ritzier what to do. But sir, you are not running for office in Illinois and I promise you that you will probably return to Atlanta soon with that attitude.

Candidate Chris Kennedy has not yet started to spend anywhere. His wealth is his name. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton totally ignored advertising with Black media.

Hometown guy Barack Obama was a part of the peanut Black media spend, too, as he rose to the national ranks. But he clamored for Black media coverage as he climbed the political ladder.

He, too, took the Black community for granted; he had the Black vote in his pocket, while Hillary figured that she would carry Illinois no matter what. She took us for granted as she made lightweight visits to Chicago’s South and West sides, where the Black vote lives.

I hope that as the landscape of politicking changes, Black media is respected for its audience and its reach. I also hope that a cap eventually enters campaign financing so that the billionaires can debate the common fellow or lady on the real issues and not look down from their rich perches on the low land.

Hermene Hartman

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