The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is experiencing record-low fundraising. In May 2017, it raised the lowest amount since 2003, and April 2017 was its worst month since 2009. Instead of donating to the DNC, donors have been pouring millions into the Obama Foundation.
On July 14, the Obama Foundation released a list of donations categorized by the amount given. The list donors who gave at least $1 million include Silicon Valley billionaire John Doerr, Microsoft, LinkedIn Founder Reid Hoffman, Rahm Emanuel’s “go-to guy” Michael Sacks, the Exelon Corporation, AT&T and Nasdaq Director Glenn Hutchins’ foundation and the New York Community Trust.
Hoffman and Mark Pincus, who donated over $250,000 to the Obama Foundation, recently launched WTF, a political organization that aspires to get people to vote online for policies, slogans and ads to turn into billboards around Washington, D.C. John Doerr also serves on the Obama Foundation’s Board of Directors, and in 2015 a sexual discrimination lawsuit filed against him incited a national discussion on the rampant sexism and gender inequality in Silicon Valley. Robert Wolf, an Obama Foundation board member and former president of UBS, donated over $250,000 to the Obama Foundation. Jonathan Lavine, co-managing partner of Mitt Romney’s venture capital group Bain Capital, donated at least $750,000.
A spokesperson for the Obama Foundation told the Chicago Sun-Times on July 14 that the organization’s restrictions on donations would no longer be imposed now that Obama is out of office, freeing him from having to convey the image that he isn’t cozy with corporate and Wall Street elites.
The Obama Foundation’s goal of securing and broadening Obama’s legacy resembles the Clinton Foundation’s. The Hill reported that the foundation is building a $500 million library. The foundation is run by Martin Nesbitt and Obama’s former White House Political Director David Simas.
Obama’s close relationships with Wall Street bankers and Silicon Valley billionaires entrenched corporate power as a guiding principle in the Democratic Party. Now that he is out of office, his courtship of the world’s wealthiest people shows his worldview and true intentions. Though he was elected in part to rein in the corruption and greed that led to the 2008 economic recession, he now delivers highly paid speeches at Wall Street institutions. Additionally, while Wall Street received billions in bailouts during his administration, recovery never came for most Americans. The interests of billionaires and wealthy elites oppose those of the working and middle class, and it’s obvious who Obama sides with.
The Democratic Party nostalgically yearns for Obama, but their obsessions blinds them to the political crises that his presidency either ignored or worsened. Under his leadership, the Democratic Party devolved and lost thousands of elected offices around the country. Democrats risk irrelevancy if they don’t transcend this corporatist worldview and enact solutions to the problems that resulted in Donald Trump’s presidency.