NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, November 25th, 2019

Michael Bloomberg is trying to buy the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination

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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