After the pasting Elizabeth Warren and most of the other presidential hopefuls gave billionaire candidate Mike Bloomberg in the most recent Democratic Debate, dropping out of the race would be the logical thing for the former New York City Mayor to do. Of course he won’t, though.
Bloomberg, the sixth richest man in the US, has the cash to stay in and the ego to think it’s a good idea. Unfortunately, there are many in the Democratic Party establishment who think it’s a good idea too.
Their logic is simple: He’s like Trump, but different in the right ways.
The thing is, in many ways, Bloomberg is like the current US President. Unfortunately their differences actually help Trump in a general election, or at best don’t matter and their similarities scream unelectable for a Democratic candidate.
He’s A Billionaire From New York, But…
The narrative in favour of Bloomberg goes something like this:
“He’s a billionaire from New York but unlike Trump, he’s not a loudmouth anti-intellectual slob. And New York high society doesn’t laugh at him behind his back.”
Yes, that last part is actually part of the narrative that Bloomberg pushed in a tweet last week:
.@realDonaldTrump – we know many of the same people in NY. Behind your back they laugh at you & call you a carnival barking clown. They know you inherited a fortune & squandered it with stupid deals and incompetence.— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) February 13, 2020
I have the record & the resources to defeat you. And I will. https://t.co/fO4azmZaUg
The intent is clearly to get under Trump’s skin and it probably will. However it will also harden the current president’s bogus narrative that he is an everyman and maybe even win him votes from those who feel they would also be mocked by coastal elites.
Aside from members of the Trump family and Rudy Giuliani, people who care what New York high society thinks didn’t vote for Trump last time. Most likely neither did people who think an expansive vocabulary, high intellect and public decorum are the most important traits a president should have.
Trump won in spite of being a rich guy from New York and largely because he came across as not your typical respectable presidential candidate. Well, that and racism.
Speaking of bigotry and prejudice, let’s move onto where Trump and Bloomberg are similar.
Bloomberg’s Political Track Record Hurts Him
While Trump didn’t have an elected political record when he ran for President in 2016, Bloomberg isn’t so lucky. He was Mayor of New York City from 2001 through 2013.
Those turned out to be 12 of the stoppiest, friskiest years the city’s young male African American population ever experienced. Bloomberg took Giuliani’s Stop and Frisk policy and, as Michael Moore said recently, put it on steroids.
While Bloomberg now claims that he is “embarassed” by stop and frisk having “gone too far” under his watch, audio from 2015 unearthed by Benjamin Dixon tells a different story:
Audio of @MikeBloomberg’s 2015 @AspenInstitute speech where he explains that “you can just Xerox (copy)” the description of male, minorities 16-25 and hand to cops.— Benjamin Dixon (@BenjaminPDixon) February 10, 2020
Bloomberg had video of speech blocked.
Perhaps because of the problematic explanation he gives for #StopAndFrisk pic.twitter.com/Fm0YCi4ZRy
Racial profiling was a top down policy and the guy at the top is only now “embarassed” by it because he is running for President and got called out. Racial prejudice is one of the traits Bloomberg has in common with Trump.
Another one is his problem with women working for him. Some have reported rather misogynistic things he said, and others, not sure how many others, have signed nondisclosure agreements. This came up during the last debate:
Following that exchange, Bloomberg decided to release three women from their NDAs and left the door open for others. The first signs that some of what transpired on the debate stage actually got through to the billionaire candidate.
Trump also has problems with sexual harassment and worse. But running as a Republican, that sadly doesn’t seem to matter, neither do his racist policies.
As a Democratic candidate, though, both do. Bloomberg is just a bridge too far for many voters who lean to the left but are willing to suck it up and vote for almost anyone running against Trump.
Bloomberg the viable Democratic presidential candidate is the embodiment of the incredibly wrong decades-old belief of many establishment Dems that you can only win swing states and flip Republican states by running as GOP-lite. In this case, it would actually mean running an officially former Republican with a few decent policies to keep the blue states in line.
You don’t turn a purple state blue by wearing a bunch of red. If you want to win over independents and even some Republicans, you need to be a bold alternative, not a watered down version of the other side.
The Bernie Factor
While it may have been Warren who eviscerated (in this case, such an over-the-top click-baity word is appropriate) the former mayor on stage, Bernie Sanders gained the most that night. He walked into the debate the front runner and left it still on top of the pack.
That wasn’t lost on anyone, in particular Bloomberg, who has squarely re-purposed a significant amount of his bottomless ad buying power to attack the Vermont senator. So much for attacking Trump…he is instead attacking the best chance the Dems have to beat him in November.
If Bloomberg truly wanted to use his fortune to remove Trump from office, he would have challenged him in the Republican Primary and then in the General Election as a third-party candidate. He’d take some of the old guard Republican vote and even some of the corporate Democrat vote and leave the working class and socially progressive voters all to Bernie.
Sure, he wouldn’t win, but neither would Trump. In the unlikely event he becomes the Democratic nominee, Trump would undoubtedly win.
Bloomberg won’t save the country from Trump. He’s trying to “save” the Democrats from Sanders, and if that means his old golfing buddy Donald gets another four years, so be it.
Bloomberg is a disaster that hopefully will never happen.
Jason C. McLean is a Canadian political observer who, like everyone else in the world who cares about politics, is following the 2020 US Election quite closely