If you’re looking to shop a conspiracy theory to Breitbart or InfoWars, it would be hard to outdo this one: Warren Buffett, dismayed by our dysfunctional plutocratic government, summons 17 elitists to a Maui hideaway. They are rich (George Soros, of course, and Ross Perot), famous (Warren Beatty, Yoko Ono), plugged into the media establishment (Barry Diller). With their vast wealth and privileged status, they transform America by unionizing Walmart, driving private money out of elections, establishing single-payer health care and rewriting the Pledge of Allegiance (“with liberty and justice for some.”)
There’s a kicker to this fantasy. It was published almost 10 years ago, as a 733-page novel titled Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!. And the author was not Alex Jones or Newt Gingrich, but Ralph Nader—yes, the corporate-busting, Gore-undermining, Corvair-demolishing activist Ralph Nader. Most important, while the book is a tad heavy-handed—the right-wing radio voices opposed to these elitist liberal reforms are named “Bush Bimbaugh” and “Pawn Sanity”—Nader was more than a little prescient. The 2018 midterms demonstrated that a long-cherished belief on the left—that the ultra-ultra-ultra-rich pose a clear and present danger to our democracy—is fast being overtaken by events. It is not a fantasy to suggest that the next presidential election could involve a powerful push to the left by a handful of the richest people in America.