President Donald Trump is a multimillionaire

Election campaign for the super-rich in the USA

US President Donald Trump usually callously brushes criticism of his administration from the table. Anyone who thinks their political achievements are less great than they do themselves is quickly called an idiot or scum. Trump is thinner when someone relativizes his or her wealth. Long before his term in office, he even wanted to drag a journalist who had once dared to call him a multimillionaire instead of a billionaire to court. The lawsuit was dismissed.

So it is quite possible that in the fight for the White House a possible duel against the former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg would scratch Trump's ego. The fortune of Bloomberg, who is running for a candidacy in the Democratic Party, is estimated by the magazine "Forbes" at nearly 62 billion dollars (more than 57 billion euros) - and is therefore twenty times as large as that of Trump.

Of course, both are rich in stones. Bloomberg has not participated in the previous primaries and does not want to get into the ring until the so-called Super Tuesday at the beginning of March. Should his tactics work and he should develop from an unused late starter to the final opponent of Trump, the US election campaign would be accompanied by a basic question beyond all issues: Is that still democracy? Or does one not have to speak of a plutocracy for a long time, in which only the super-rich come into play, who can pay for their expensive campaigns from the postage account?

Part of the answer has to be: Of course, the wealthy also have the right to stand for election. Anything else would be the opposite of democratic. The left applicant Bernie Sanders still has a point if he railed against those who would simply buy their candidacy. But his argument is political in nature. It does not aim to exclude rich opponents, but to emphasize its socialist ideals.

Gear lever of power

If billionaires strive for the levers of power, then democratic societies cannot and should not prevent them from doing so. But you have to watch them with eagle eyes, because the temptations of abuse are manifold. This doesn't just apply to the United States. In Italy, for example, the media mogul Silvio Berlusconi, notoriously in conflict with the judiciary, secured power and influence through his self-financed course in politics. In the Czech Republic, on the other hand, the billionaire - and head of government - Andrej Babiš is under pressure. Critics accuse him of selfish handling of money from EU funds.

The memory of Frank Stronach's wandering excursion into the political realm of Austria gives an idea of ​​what is possible: Stronach did manage to finance a successful election campaign in which, as an anti-politician, he addressed politicians disgusted with politics. The fact that he soon disappeared into oblivion, at least, testifies to democratic self-healing powers.

In the United States, Trump won in a similar way in 2016. Whether he succeeds again will not only depend on the money - regardless of whom he ultimately competes. His favorite weapon, Twitter, for example, is practically free of charge and yet it turns out to be dangerous in many ways. A duel between the white New York billionaires would perhaps be a problem for the diversity of US democracy - but with some civil vigilance it will certainly not end. (Gerald Schubert, February 15, 2020)