It is a truth universally acknowledged (or, at least, the Supreme Court acknowledged it memorably once) that if you have a sufficient amount of money, the money also gets to join you in voting and making its political opinions known. But how best to spend this money?

This week, we saw two men who spent cartoonish amounts of their own money to make a difference in politics, and I think we should contemplate the results.

Tom Steyer has long said it was a priority for him to take down Donald Trump. For months, he has been paying to run expensive ads urging that the president be impeached. Then, he started paying to run something even more expensive: himself, for president.

To do this, Steyer spent millions of dollars on ads. Then he spent millions more dollars on additional ads. Then, just to be safe, he spent millions more dollars, some on ads and some, I guess, on commercial air travel (his ads have been pursuing me across my social media, demanding that the other candidates take his pledge to fly only commercial.)

And as a consequence of taking all this money and pouring it down a large, ad-shaped hole, Tom Steyer got to stand onstage at two debates. At the events, he said such illuminating and important things as the following: “I’m different from everybody else on this stage. I know that the government in Washington, D.C., is broken.”

It was important that he get up there to say a message that was as electrifying as it was distinct from anything being said by anyone else, especially the part where he said he was the only one who could beat Donald Trump, and he wanted to get power back to the people.

I ask you: Do you like Tom Steyer better now? Do you feel that he is doing something good for democracy? Or do you think, if you are paying millions of dollars to get to say words, they ought to be better words? Do you think, golly, I was taking Julián Castro for granted at these debates, and I wish we could have heard from him some more!

I think we must ask: Is this really the most effective way of using money to fight Donald Trump? Consider the alternative.

This might not have been what he realized he was doing, but Gordon Sondland spent $1 million, a single time, to become the ambassador to the European Union. And on the same day as Mr. Steyer, he got to speak for hours, both from notes and off his cuff. And he seems to be taking down Donald Trump just fine.

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