Do You Want To Be President of The USA? Can You Raise A Billion Dollars?

  • Emily Townley
  • U.S.A
  • February 5, 2024

So, you want to run for President? The economy is torrid, the country and its people are divided, and so on and so forth. You believe you can change all that. Great! Good on you for taking on this task. Quick question: do you have a billion dollars lying around? No? Oh well, maybe next election cycle! 

It’s not surprising that running an election campaign costs a pretty penny. From television ads to travel costs to salaries, it is easy for money to go down the train. As such, it makes sense that those who make a lot of money, like CEOs and politicians, run for President. 

Although the Republican primary race is not yet over, it appears that former President Trump will represent the GOP in the presidential race against incumbent President Joe Biden. It looks like Biden is ready for his rematch with Trump; he’s already launched an ad campaign targeting Trump’s gaffes during the New Hampshire primary. Outside of gravitas, experience, and backing from influential supporters, what does one need to run for President of the United States? The answer is, of course, money. However, can the average person run for President nowadays, or must they be as rich as Warren Buffet?

On one hand, the candidates don’t need to worry about running out of money. Trump’s net worth is in the billions, for example. However, candidates don’t necessarily always run on their dime. They can; Trump took out loans during his 2016 presidential campaign. Individuals, per federal regulations, can also donate $3,000 to a specific campaign. So, where do the million-dollar donations come from? Depending on the candidate, the answers are Political Action Committees (PACs) and Super PACs. 

These committees raise millions of dollars for these candidates. With Super PACs, no federal regulation prohibits people from donating as much as they want. Corporations and unions, for example, can also contribute to PACs and Super PACs, but not a presidential campaign. While it’s important to acknowledge that Super PACs can’t directly donate to a campaign, they still raise money to promote a candidate, party, or whatever else is on the ballot. 

This issue, then, is not if you have to be ungodly rich to run for President. The issue is, instead, who the one percent want to be President. Although efforts in the past have been made to reform campaign finance regulations, especially under the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, which “restricted so-called “soft money” donations — unlimited contributions to party organizations…used for nebulous, unregulated ‘party building” activities’…”, the Supreme Court dealt out rulings, such as that in McCutcheon, et al. v. FEC, that relaxed federal regulations. So yes, you don’t necessarily have to be a billionaire to run for President. You just need good friends, supporters, and donors who are.