Running for President for Fun and Profit

Elections

I can’t be the only person who sighed upon learning this morning that Representative Seth Moulton (D., Mass.) was spotted recording a presidential announcement video. Another day, and another Democrat is preparing to run for president. What makes Moulton, a Marine elected to Congress in 2014, believe he can defeat Biden, Bernie, Beto, and Buttigieg? His first problem is he doesn’t have the letter B as an initial. That alone puts him in the second tier.

The Democratic field, which could boast more than 20 candidates by end of summer, is reaching absurd proportions. A tragedy of the commons looms. Too many Democrats grazing on the same limited resource — the non-Sanders primary vote — will help Bernie win the nomination. Why are Democrats willing to take such a risk?

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Sanders provides a clue. His tax returns confirm that 2016 made America’s most famous democratic socialist a wealthy man. He might be a cause-oriented-politician — Moulton too — but for many officeholders a presidential campaign is above all an excellent business opportunity. Cable appearances build notoriety. Fundraising enhances professional networks. Losing candidate often emerge with television contracts or book deals. No one had heard of Andrew Yang before he launched his (long shot) bid. Now he’s been on The Daily Show and Tucker Carlson Tonight.

Becoming a presidential candidate is a sure way to attain status in our celebrity culture. The best candidates become rock stars, touring the country to perform in front of adulatory crowds. The worst end up as punch lines. But who, really, is having the last laugh?

Other than Bernie Sanders, I mean.

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