The Girls on the Bus: Is Dick Braun Based on a Real Billionaire?

Max’s ‘The Girls on the Bus’ takes the audience on a bumpy ride as Sadie McCarthy and her journalist friends try to uncover the hidden secrets of the Democratic Presidential candidates, hoping to give the public a real picture of who they should place their bets on. This, of course, is not so easy, and even the girls know that a lot of things in the elections are already decided. For example, almost all of them, no matter if Democratic or Republican, believe that things like debates don’t really do anything for a Presidential candidate because their target is not the audience who will vote for them. Things like these are decided behind the scenes, where money and influence are the real currency. By the end of the season, this proves to be an irrefutable fact, and the involvement of Dick Braun does that trick. Unfortunately, he is inspired by a very real thing. SPOILERS AHEAD

The Fictional Dick Braun Presents a True Face of Democracy

By the end of the first season of ‘The Girls on the Bus,’ Sadie discovers that one of the Presidential candidates is being backed by a billionaire, and this is the reason behind their sudden rise and the equally meteoric fall of their competitor. Of course, by now, she knows that the involvement of billionaires as donors, working completely behind the scenes, is not a big thing, but Dick Braun’s involvement goes far beyond that. Though he is not based on a particular billionaire (comparisons might be made with a certain billionaire who made his money from tech), his presence in the democratic system is pulled from reality.

Image Credit: Nicole Rivelli/Max

While it is true that several billionaires (Donald Trump, Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer) have tried their hand at politics, what makes them more influential is their indirect involvement. Reportedly, more than 200 billionaires spent an unbelievable amount of money in backing their preferred presidential candidate. Reportedly, the top 20 spent a total of $2.3 billion, which was revealed to have been around twice as much as Joe Biden’s campaign.

This trend has only picked pace over the years. The 2022 mid-term elections also saw a large flow of cash from the pockets of the billionaires to the coffers that supported the campaigns for both political parties. Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) used Federal Election Commission data from Open Secrets to make a shocking calculation and reported that $881 million was thrown into the federal elections by the end of September that year. Reportedly, this was 44% more than the amount that went into the 2018 midterm elections. It is believed the new record for the 2024 elections is set to break all the records, with billionaires already choosing sides, no matter what they may or may not have said about the said candidate in the past.

Dick Braun’s character in the show presents this ugly face of democracy to the audience, which reveals that the people with the money have more power over the system, which is supposed to be designed for the people and by the people. This level of involvement, where the general public is essentially rendered meaningless, has been called a very serious moment with grave consequences. We see a possibility of that in the HBO series, but things can get much worse in real life.

Read More: The Girls on the Bus: Is the Max Show Based on a Book?