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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Trump’s vice president strategy: Money talks louder than politics 

Trump listens to Doug Burgum, one of the top contenders for his vice president.

As Donald Trump emerged in March as victor of the Republican primaries, supporters and opponents alike have directed their attention to his vacant vice president position, which, worryingly, appears to invite a candidate with only two criteria: an unwavering allegiance to Trump, and an immense fortune to donate to his campaign. 

According to insiders cited by The New York Times, Trump’s primary standard for a vice president is not ideological alignment, but rather their ability to rake in cash for his campaign. This shift toward prioritizing financial prowess over political principles has raised eyebrows, with groups like EMILY’s List, an abortion-rights group, cautioning against the inclusion of “extremist” candidates in Trump’s shortlist. 

As of May 20, Trump’s campaign fundraising, at $93 million, is lagging behind Biden’s $126 million. With a stark contrast in fundraising strategies — Biden relying on grassroots support and Trump courting larger donors — Trump’s campaign faces pressure to catch up.

So as Trump evaluates potential VP candidates, his focus on their fundraising abilities has become increasingly evident.

For example, the current governor of South Dakota and candidate for the Trump vice presidency Kristi Noem is an anti-abortion extremist who insisted in 2022 that a 10-year-old rape victim should be forced to carry out her pregnancy. Though her chances of becoming vice president are now slim, Trump had previously supported her, commenting that Noem is “loyal” and “great.”

And as more candidates are filtered out and only those with deep pockets remain — including North Dakota governor Doug Burgum, pharmaceutical company CEO Vivek Ramaswamy and South Carolina senator Tim Scott — Trump’s choices for politically conscious candidates are clearly limited. 

Take Burgum: Trump himself described Burgum as “very rich,” while Forbes estimates that Burgum has a net worth of $100 million. However, Burgum is also known to repeatedly question the 2020 election and point out false election “irregularities” such as mass mailing of ballots. Burgum’s staunch devotion to Trump leaves little room for him to place the interests of the country first.

An even wealthier candidate, Ramaswamy is one of Trump’s top surrogates with a net worth of over $960 million. However, Ramaswamy’s pledges are concerning: He claims the LGBTQ+ community is mentally ill and believes that troops should be sent to the Mexican border to crack down on drug syndicates by invading Mexico, a U.S. ally, with the same fervor of the manhunt for Osama Bin Laden. Having a vice president that indulges in fringe conspiracy theories — like government involvement in 9/11 — is  concerning to say the least.

The bottom line is that no country, not even the U.S., is completely immune from extremism, let alone if a potential vice president and president support it. For example, Trump’s embrace of the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riot not only shocked the nation but also demonstrated the threat of violent extremism, hate and online conspiracy theories to American democracy. Extremist policies would only fuel more violence and unrest, drawing larger divides within the country. Coupled with the sheer influence of the executive branch on federal policy, the influence of an extremist vice president is unimaginably dangerous.

In the high-stakes game of presidential politics, Trump’s non-traditional campaign strategy is unprofessional. Whether this shift will catapult him to the White House or not remains unclear, but it regardless signals a clear, unsavory emphasis on monetary requisite over ideological alignment in Trump’s bid for reelection. 

Yet Trump is disregarding these candidates’ clear shortcomings for monetary gain. In a democracy founded on the principles of self-governance and representation for “We the People,” the notion of handpicking a vice president based on their capacity to raise money for a presidential nominee  is not just unbecoming — it’s an affront to the democratic process itself. Trump’s campaign may be desperate to close the fundraising gap with Biden’s, but sacrificing integrity and principle on the altar of financial expediency is a disgraceful betrayal of the public trust.

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