Is John Legend right calling out Mark Cuban over donation choice in GA?
- John Legend is an acclaimed Grammy- and Academy Award-winning musician and songwriter famed for his albums Get Lifted and Love in the Future. “All of Me” is one of his most famous songs as a favorite in weddings.
- Mark Cuban is known as one of the star investors on the hit show, Shark Tank, and owner of the NBA Dallas Mavericks.
- On November 12, Cuban tweeted against donating to Georgia Senate elections, and instead giving to local food banks. He called out, “Let’s put Americans in need above Politics.”
- In response, Legend tweeted back saying, “the bottom line is that the Senate flipping would be far more impactful than a food bank donation. We need massive stimulus and aid to individuals and small businesses. Government needs to do this. Charity isn’t sufficient.”
By suggesting people donate money to food banks rather than election campaigns in Georgia, Mark Cuban is creating a false dichotomy in which John Legend was right to call him out. By saying donors' money better serves the public good by giving it to food banks, Cuban is making the assumption that these donors would give it to food banks as if they have a certain amount of money set aside for charity and must give it away. This isn't necessarily true; people are motivated by a number of different factors when it comes to giving to charity. To assume that if an individual doesn't donate to a political cause, they will automatically give with the same extent to a food bank is a false equivalency. Also, many who have the means to donate to charity can give to both causes.
While there can be no doubt that giving to food banks helps those in need much more immediately than political causes, working to effect change through elections creates a more lasting legacy. These Georgia senate races will affect which party controls the Senate, which will determine whether we experience the gridlock of divided government or whether the progressive policies of the Democratic party have a chance to be implemented. This could affect issues like healthcare, coronavirus stimulus, tax policy, and criminal justice reform. These issues disproportionately affect people with lower socioeconomic status, so ensuring they get representation in government that has their interests at heart is the more effective use of donations.
Although Mark Cuban's statement wasn't party-specific, John Legend's response mentions 'Senate flipping,' which implies he's talking specifically about donating to Democrats. The thinking behind this seems to be that Democratic politicians would help people more than giving that money to a charitable cause or organization. Considering that it was the Democrats who turned down a chance to pass more stimulus back in August, claiming 'the Republicans would like to pass something like that and say forget about it,' and that the result has been nothing passed at all anyway, it seems unlikely any politicians from either major party are going to help anyone before it's too late for many. Sadly it already is too late for some. A recent study shows that '8 million Americans slipped into poverty' over the months since the CARES Act was passed.
Furthermore, Jon Ossoff, one of the Democratic candidates in the Georgia Senate race, has already received 'massive financial contributions' from money being funneled his way by the Democratic party. If he can't win with that kind of backing, the problem may not be funding. The other Democrat running for a seat in Georgia, Reverend Raphael Warnock, may not have that money behind him but seems to have strong community support. Grassroots campaigns like his have become a major force in recent elections and have been called the 'future of politics.' Though such campaigns do rely on individual donors, it seems unlikely that a pastor like Warnock would ask for campaign contributions over giving to the needy.