The $400,000 Dollar Question: On Barack Obama and Wall Street Money 

The inordinate influence of Wall Street money on American politics is a point of contention for people who consider themselves progressive. As I am certain that many of you have heard by now, Barack Obama will be receiving $400,000 dollars to speak to a Wall Street firm.

Democrats Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have voiced their critiques of this move. In response to their responses, there has been a number of critiques that are far less nuanced, and baseless. Instead of focusing on the point of contention, people are framing this as “hating on a brother for getting his paper.” *Blank stare* That is the level of analysis that we have to contend with out here.

What concerns me about this is the duplicity. If you consider yourself a progressive, money in politics is a matter that effects all of the issues that we are nominally supposed to be for. It would not surprise me if some of these same people who see no problem with this would have a problem with people earning a living wage.  No, it does not make it any better whether the politician is out of office when they receive these exuberant amounts of money.

To any critic, I see the term hater thrown around. In all seriousness, if you’re using a late 90’s hip hop term to deflect legitimate civic criticism, you need to stop. It makes you look simple and foolish. To those who say that Barack Obama earned every penny, you’re absolutely right. He earned that money from Wall Street by not prosecuting any of these “fat cats” as he described them. These are the same group of people who destroyed the economy and handed taxpayers the bill. In the form of the Wall Street bailouts, in case you were wondering what I was referring to. Wall Street does not give out money for nothing, this is not an example of a philanthropic pursuit. The fact that Wall Street has so much influence over our politics, is one of the reasons why ground up reforms are so difficult to get through.

Progressive minded and radical people have our work cut out for us in a myriad of ways. In addition to being vocal about our views, and not allowing ourselves to be shushed by mainstream liberals, we also have to occasionally do political education of the most rudimentary kind. So many are rudderless out here on questions like why exuberant amounts of Wall Street influence in our politics is a bad thing for the voter base. Patiently explaining takes on a broader definition than it did in the past. This is why platforms like the one I have built are necessary.

What people are okay with, will continue. But let me stop preaching. I am in the process of finishing the manuscript for “The Ethical Merits of Late Capitalism” -funded by Wall Street. A brother gotta get his paper, right?




  1. The same brother being “rewarded” by Wall Street also signed Dodd-Frank. Surely that has to count for something, no? I’m only asking because it appears that none of the fines levied against big banks mean very little. I suppose a literal hanging on Main Street would be more apropos, yes?

  2. Good morning, Patrick. Dodd-Frank was a fairly toothless piece of legislation that really was never meant to be effective in reigning in Wall Street. As noted in this piece from Rolling Stone back in 2012, Dodd-Frank was a dead letter. It counts for looking like you are doing something. Obama himself said that “he was the only thing standing between you and the pitchforks” Oh.. how right he was. Next question?

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