While Democratic congressional campaigns are raising tidal waves of cash from hordes of hyper-motivated small donors, as usual, too many Republican voters are still not stepping up. Roughly 100 percent of the Democrat base has been financially on a war-fever footing since 2017; the Republican base is sadly only half-awake.
I know many well-off and very well-off conservative Republicans in various states who have never given a dime to any federal political campaign, party committee, or political action committee. I know others who have given nothing since 2008 or before. Some have lied to me that they have indeed given recently, but I can see the truth on the website of the Federal Election Commission.
One friend told me he will move back to his homeland (it’s not Canada!) because “this country is over” if the Democrats win. I suppose he is saving for his move—and he saves massively; he could have retired with his millions years ago—because he has never given a cent to any Republican entity at the federal level.
I know a deeply Republican family with a multimillionaire (mostly in company equity) business-owner father—who also has a very well-paying day job that is pure gravy because the mortgage is long paid off—and a number of children including two long-grown boys pursuing their own promising careers in different states. Not one has ever donated anything, ever.
I know another multimillionaire lifelong conservative, an old guy who gave a few hundred dollars in the 2000s and nothing since. He has amassed a collection of scores of rifles, including a number of semi-rare World War I and interwar era pieces. He is a prepaid lifelong NRA member and a single-issue (guns) voter. I am not sure who he thinks is going to defend his gun rights, if not the Republican party.
His long-grown older son, who still mostly lives off dad, and who travels internationally (not for any paying work), is also a prepaid lifetime NRA member, with a collection of more modern but very expensive, unusual firearms. He has never donated a cent to any federal campaign, party committee, or PAC.
I am not referring to deep-cover Republicans who don’t want to go on public record with donations for fear of being outed at a liberal workplace, and losing their jobs or becoming radioactive to their colleagues. I only speak of those who are fortunate enough to not have to worry about that.
Then there is a close relative of mine, who dabbled in borderline communism for many years before being mugged by high taxes once his career took off. One of the first things he did when he began swimming in money was to pay cash for an $80,000 custom sports coupe. He is one of those who says he can’t go on public record as a Republican donor. I told him that he can stay anonymous by giving to conservative media outfits or to certain state campaigns. I told him to start with $5, just to see what it feels like. I told him that it’s a big deal just to stay involved by giving any sum, no matter how small, in every election cycle. He has repeatedly refused and ultimately just ignored me.
It’s a fact that, on balance, across all of its varied committees and campaigns, the Republican Party falls short of the Democrats in fundraising in almost every election cycle. Sometimes the GOP falls behind in dollars and still comes up hugely ahead in results, as in 2010. But more often, the worse the fundraising, the worse the performance—2018 was a great example. 2020 is shaping up to be potentially another miserable case in point.
President Trump could be reelected and the GOP could still lose its Senate majority for no reason other than that Democratic challengers utterly swamped Republicans in ad spending, digital outreach, and other things that cost money. If that happens, the blame lies with those in the Republican so-called base who easily could have given five or 50 dollars but did nothing, as usual.
Despite the lofty rhetoric and inflated self-perception of many conservatives, it is obvious that even Democrats of modest means take the most deeply personal responsibility for the future shape of their country, while too many Republicans simply can’t be bothered. Ultimately, the more motivated side that makes the most sacrifices will prevail.