Quiet Exits & Oligarchy: Lessons from the End of Scott Walker’s and Rick Perry’s 2016 Presidential Bids

Quiet Exits from the Field

As Bernie Sanders gains fundraising momentum after his great showing in the Democratic debate, we continue along in the campaign season toward primaries for both parties. Little notice has been given to the Walker and Perry campaigns that have folded on the Republican side.

PerryWalkerScott Walker posted to his Facebook page September 21, 2015 announcing the suspension of his campaign. He stated,

Today, I believe that I am being called to lead by helping to clear the race so that a positive conservative message can rise to the top of the field. With that in mind, I will suspend my campaign immediately.

Rick Perry suspended his campaign on September 11, 2015 with a lengthy web site post at rickperry.org lengthy, and an excerpted post to his Facebook page. He stated,

When I gave my life to Christ, I said, “your ways are greater than my ways. Your will superior to mine.” I submit that His will remains a mystery, but some things have become clear. That is why today I am suspending my campaign for the presidency of the United States.

Missing from both announcements was any mention of the money. A quick search reveals verified reports of fundraisers—the misleading name given to large donors and donation bundlers—who left Walker and the fundraising stall of the Perry campaign in August 2015. These frustrations, no doubt, played into the calculus for the eventual campaign suspensions. The closest you can get to a reference to money is that both candidates mentioned “the field” in their suspension announcements. Maybe those were veiled references to the reduced pool of funds due to the number of candidates in the race.

The amount of money needed to mount a successful public office bid seems huge, and in fact it is judging by federal policy like the Citizen’s United decision and the almost unanimous employment of super PACs. But, this post is about oligarchy, and the fact that WE THE PEOPLE still have a chance. Certainly, estimates of $2 billion needed for the 2016 campaign are daunting. It appears that a hand full of oligarchs could trump the people amassing the $2 billion from the top 20% (27,317,142) at just $72 per person. It’s still just Math. The bottom 80% (109,268,569 ) could raise that as well at a cost of only $18 per person.

It’s About Money, But Also Infrastructure

CNN Interview with Sanders posted September 4, 2015 discussing infrastructure.

The Math is the simple part. The social worker shines in what is really needed. Understand that the $2 billion is not a simple fundraising target. It must be spent to wisely build an infrastructure that ultimately convinces people to come out and vote. Along the way, it would be great if you could convince more of the 80% to vote in their interests and the interests of all as opposed to voting in the interests of the top 20%. Check the 2012 election results. Obama won 62,611,250 (51%) votes to Romney’s 59,134,475 (47%).

The apparatus needed to run a nationwide campaign is formidable. Bernie knows it. We as Americans like it that way. If a presidential candidate wants to run the United States of America, he or she had better have the ability to run and organize a successful campaign. It was the lessons that GW Bush learned from the Clinton elections and Howard Dean. It was the lesson Obama learned from GW Bush’s campaigns. You organize a strategy to win complete with the infrastructure in the earliest days of the campaign.

In the most recent reporting period (as of Sept 30, 2015) Bernie Sanders had pulled almost even with Hillary Clinton in fundraising at $26 million raised. He admitted as late as September 4, 2015 that he was working to hire more people to address the growth that has outstripped his campaign’s capacity to organize.

Questions for Social Work

The need for social work is evident—macro social work specifically, but those distinctions need to fall away. On the traditional end of the spectrum, community organizing, community development, organizational development, and community education are needed. On the cutting edge of the spectrum, financial literacy, health literacy, voter rights, political advocacy, policy authorship, and organizational consulting, and corporate citizenship (also called social entrepreneurship) is required.

The question is, “Do social work students, educators, professionals, and supporters know why those areas are key to withstanding oligarchy and a government ruled by the rich and their corporations?” The short answer is that social workers are a bridge between the worlds of the poor and vulnerable, the system of care, and the system of public policy and finance…at least we have been and need to be again.