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Billionaire donor: A politician not in the pocket of donors is "like a dictator"

Al Bello/Getty Images

Many people find the idea of politicians' dependence on wealthy donors to be contrary to the egalitarian spirit of democracy. Stanley Hubbard, a Minnesota billionaire who made his fortune through inheriting a company his dad founded, sees it the other way around. Rich contributors pulling the strings is the essence of democracy, and politicians just doing what they want regardless of donor demands is like a dictatorship.

"This idea of 'I don't need to have any funding, I'll fund myself,' that scares the hell out of me," Hubbard told Jonathan Swan and Harper Neidig for an article on the Koch donor network's indecision about the 2016 GOP field. "That's like a dictator. I think that any politician should have to answer to their constituents. … I don't think it's healthy to have somebody who doesn't answer to anybody."

The good news is that in the United States of America, even self-funded candidates are actually accountable to the voters.

But Hubbard is discussing his discomfort with Donald Trump here, and in doing so he is simultaneously revealing why GOP elites find him so repugnant and why much of the rank and file finds him so appealing. Grassroots conservatives are outraged about a series of real (immigration reform) and imagined (failure to repeal Obamacare while Obama sits in the White House) betrayals by their leaders, and have decided that the problem is these leaders are insufficiently accountable to the grassroots. The Republican donor class, meanwhile, fears that Trump is excessively accountable to mass opinion and insufficiently accountable to them.

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