A Buddhist perspective on money in politics

In Buddhist thinking, money is good if it is acquired honestly and used intelligently, morally and for good purposes.

In the USA, during this presidential campaign we often see headlines saying that Hillary has raised more money for her campaign than Donald has for his. The implication is that she is probably going to win and that her money-raising skills are better than his.

Here is a detailed comparison on the two candidates: Tracking the 2016 Presidential Money Race.

Hillary Clinton continues to dominate the money race—now having raised more than $1 billion this election—thanks in large part to a cadre of wealthy donors sending tens of millions of dollars into super-PACs. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been poured into television advertisements on her behalf as well as get-out-the-vote efforts in battleground states across the country. Even so, Clinton still has more cash in the bank heading into the final days of the campaign, giving her a significant advantage for mobilizing voters and getting her message out.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, has relied mainly on his own wealth and millions of small donations to fund his campaign. He paid for his Republican primary victory mostly out of his own pocket, and only began actively soliciting outside funds in May. Since then, he’s never closed the fundraising gap with Clinton. [emphasis added]

From an American media point of view, Hillary is winning in the money department. But from a Buddhist point of view, she is not. From a Buddhist point of view, Trump is doing much better with money than Hillary.

The reasons are:

  1. Trump is doing as well if not better than Hillary with voters while using less money. This shows he is spending wisely.
  2. More importantly, Trump is using “mainly his own wealth and millions of small donations to fund his campaign.” This shows he is generous and willing to give back to the country that allowed him to gain so much. Furthermore, his donations are coming from ordinary Americans while Hillary’s are coming from “a cadre of wealthy donors,” who we all know expect to receive returns on their investments.

It’s true Trump is wealthier than Hillary, but Hillary and Bill acquired a fortune of some $250 million since Bill left office, so she could easily afford to kick in $30 million if she wanted to.

Moreover, it seems clear that Hillary’s wealth was not acquired in an ethically sound manner. She neither produced nor invented anything. Instead, it appears that her fortune is based on selling government influence.

Money acquired in that way harms the American people because our assets are being sold for pennies on the dollar, and all the pennies go to Hillary. Hillary’s campaign finances are another example of this pattern of benefiting herself by catering to the wealthy at the expense of ordinary Americans.

No one is perfect, including Donald Trump, but from a Buddhist point of view his use of money is much better than Hillary’s.

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