Michael Bloomberg delivers a speech to the Presidential Gun Sense Forum
Michael Bloomberg delivers a speech to the Presidential Gun Sense Forum in August (Photo: Gage Skidmore, reproduced under Creative Commons license)

Almost a year after the first major can­di­date to throw her hat in the ring (Eliz­a­beth War­ren) declared her run for the pres­i­den­cy, Michael Bloomberg has decid­ed that he is the man that Amer­i­ca needs as its next president.

On Sun­day, the for­mer May­or of New York and mul­ti-bil­lion­aire declared his intent to “Rebuild Amer­i­ca,” in an announce­ment video that spent as much time attack­ing lead­ing Democ­rats’ vision for health­care as it did crit­i­ciz­ing Don­ald Trump.

Michael Bloomberg delivers a speech to the Presidential Gun Sense Forum
Michael Bloomberg’s cam­paign has pumped over $30 mil­lion into polit­i­cal adver­tiz­ing. (Pho­to: Gage Skid­more, repro­duced under Cre­ative Com­mons license)

Michael Bloomberg has had a long and tumul­tuous rela­tion­ship with the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty. A reg­is­tered Demo­c­rat before 2001, he switched par­ties to run as a Repub­li­can for may­or of New York (get­ting an endorse­ment from the now dis­graced Rudy Giu­liani), became an inde­pen­dent in 2007, and only re-joined the Democ­rats in 2018, around the same time he fun­neled a stag­ger­ing amount of mon­ey into the par­ty in the run-up to the midterm elections.

Bloomberg is report­ed­ly worth $53 bil­lion dol­lars, mak­ing the oth­er two bil­lion­aires cur­rent­ly in the pres­i­den­tial race (incum­bent Don­ald Trump and activist can­di­date Tom Stey­er) look like pau­pers beside him. He has repeat­ed­ly fund­ed polit­i­cal cam­paigns from his per­son­al cof­fers; in 2009 he spent a record-break­ing $102 mil­lion to get re-elec­t­ed in New York (this worked out to about $172 per vote).

This time is no different.

As his cam­paign launched on Sun­day, Bloomberg bought an unprece­dent­ed $37 mil­lion worth of TV spots for a two week peri­od – more ad spend­ing than the entire non-bil­lion­aire Demo­c­ra­t­ic field for the entire race so far (although Cal­i­for­ni­a’s Tom Stey­er has spent around $60 mil­lion so far).

CNN’s polit­i­cal ana­lyst Har­ry Enten remarked that the Bloomberg cam­paign will like­ly prove once and for all, “how much mon­ey can buy” in Amer­i­can politics.

Bloomberg’s advi­sors have spun this mas­sive injec­tion of cash as a sign that the for­mer-May­or “can­not be bought” – a sim­i­lar argu­ment to the one Don­ald Trump made in 2016 when he was seek­ing the Repub­li­can nomination.

While Joe Biden respond­ed to Bloomberg’s entry to the race by say­ing, “I wel­come the com­pe­ti­tion,” the lead­ing pro­gres­sives in the field were far more scathing.

Sen­a­tor Eliz­a­beth War­ren wor­ried that a suc­cess­ful Bloomberg can­di­da­cy could change the very face of Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy itself.

“It’s going to be about which bil­lion­aire you can stom­ach going for­ward, because believe me, there are plen­ty of bil­lion­aires who believe they should be pres­i­dent.”

Sen­a­tor Bernie Sanders – whose pio­neer­ing of small-donor cam­paign tac­tics won him sec­ond place in the 2016 pri­ma­ry and have ensured his posi­tion in the 2020 field’s top tier – point­ed imme­di­ate­ly to Bloomberg’s great­est weakness.

“If you can’t build grass­roots sup­port for your can­di­da­cy, you have no busi­ness run­ning for pres­i­dent,” Sanders said.

Sanders hit the nail on the head: there is absolute­ly no rea­son any self-respec­t­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic activist should sup­port Michael Bloomberg, and Bloomberg knows it.

As a big city may­or, Michael Bloomberg claimed that the Great Reces­sion was not the fault of the banks but Con­gress, enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly sup­port­ed George Bush and the occu­pa­tion of Iraq, sup­port­ed Israel’s 2009 assault on Gaza even as the Israeli gov­ern­ment was being accused of war crimes, and sub­ject­ed his city’s Mus­lim res­i­dents to a sin­is­ter blan­ket of police sur­veil­lance.

Bloomberg considers Israel's far-right Prime Minister Netanyahu a "friend"
Bloomberg con­sid­ers Israel’s far-right Prime Min­is­ter Netanyahu a “friend” (Pho­to: Prime Min­is­ter of Israel, repro­duced under Cre­ative Com­mons license)

Of course, all this was before Bloomberg rejoined the Democrats.

Bloomberg’s par­ty affil­i­a­tion may have changed, but he still har­bors many right wing views. He has claimed that China’s Xi Jin­ping is not a dic­ta­tor, com­pared Sen­a­tor Warren’s pro­posed wealth tax to Venezuela’s regime, and cozied up to Sau­di Arabia’s homi­ci­dal auto­crat Muham­mad bin Salman.

There are signs that Bloomberg is aware of how much Demo­c­ra­t­ic activists dis­like him. Instead of hir­ing on sea­soned cam­paign man­agers as oth­er can­di­dates have done, Bloomberg has elect­ed to fill his team’s ranks with peo­ple who already owe him their careers – most notably, a num­ber of Bloomberg News’ edi­to­r­i­al staff have joined his cam­paign (inci­den­tal­ly, Bloomberg’s can­di­da­cy has already dam­aged the respect­ed busi­ness news out­let due to staffing and con­flicts of interest).

Even more telling, the Bloomberg cam­paign has opt­ed to avoid cam­paign­ing at all in the four ear­ly states: Iowa, New Hamp­shire, Neva­da and South Carolina.

These states are unique not only for their “first in the nation” sta­tus, but also for the fact that win­ning there relies on old-fash­ioned “retail pol­i­tics”: door-to-door cam­paign­ing. A right-wing bil­lion­aire like Bloomberg is unlike­ly to draw many young, enthu­si­as­tic Democ­rats to his ban­ner, putting him at a dis­ad­van­tage in states where such vol­un­teers are essen­tial. Instead, the cam­paign has opt­ed to make a play for the Super Tues­day states, where Bloomberg’s vast per­son­al cof­fers can make a dif­fer­ence in expen­sive media mar­kets like Cal­i­for­nia and Texas.

For all the report­ing that Michael Bloomberg’s cam­paign is “seri­ous this time,” the odds of his nom­i­na­tion are dubi­ous at best: Polls show that – despite the con­cerns of New York’s elite donor class – the over­whelm­ing major­i­ty of Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­ers are sat­is­fied with the field of can­di­dates as it cur­rent­ly stands.

The cur­rent field rep­re­sents every major school of Demo­c­ra­t­ic and pro­gres­sive thought. It would be in no way enhanced by Michael Bloomberg’s pro-big busi­ness, social­ly lib­er­al, fis­cal­ly back­wards ideology.

Above all, Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­ers want Don­ald Trump replaced.

Few seem inter­est­ed in the notion that the fake New York bil­lion­aire in the White House should be replaced with a real New York billionaire.

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