America’s biggest problem is that rich people think they can buy anything, and it’s almost to the point where they can. Michael Bloomberg, with all shame thrown to the wind, is trying to buy the Democratic nomination for president. I see no substantive difference between him and Donald Trump – a man driven by ambition, arrogance, moral ambiguity and the ultimate contest to see whose is bigger. Only in the race for a matter of weeks, he has already spent more money than all other candidates combined and is bragging about spending even more.
In spite of everything, a really great thing about starting the run for president in Iowa is that big ad buys and flash can’t win it for you. It requires a humble approach, filled with thousands of one-on-one conversations and coffees over the kitchen table – what they call retail politics. People there get a genuine chance to know the candidates before they vote. The same can be said for the following primaries in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. It takes hard work, answers to tough questions and a certain degree of personal charisma.
Modern marketing has made amazing strides in getting people to believe or buy things, but the truth is they’re still selling the same old snake oil they always have. A con is a con, and Bloomberg has zeroed in on the Democratic Party for his next big score. Hire someone to write, produce, focus group and distribute ads – skip the first four contests for the big media markets – no muss, no fuss – sit in his command center and wait for the numbers to come in. Hell, he wouldn’t even have to be real. They can even generate a better version of him by computer – make him younger or better yet taller. That’s what he’s trying to accomplish, and what we’ve come to. It is a level of cynicism unknown to the Democratic Party until now.
Seriously, is Bloomberg a man of conviction or just a charlatan changing the story to get what he wants? He was a Democrat, then he was a Republican, then an Independent and back to being a Democrat. He was the most stalwart supporter of Stop & Frisk that unfairly targeted people of color, then he decided he wanted to be President. He flashed some cash and found an African American Minister who would allow him to apologize to his congregation – all is forgiven. I don’t think so.
Bernie Sanders has a base of committed supporters. Pete Buttigieg has a base of committed supporters, and the list goes on. Each has earned those constituencies. Who comprises Michael Bloomberg’s base? Wall Street and the elites of New York City are his tribe.
During his mayoral run, he supported massive development projects that displaced poor families and families of color who had lived in their homes for generations. He supported Charter Schools that vastly multiplied during his time in office, and he raised big money for conservative Republicans like Tom Delay, House Majority Leader at the time, who was later convicted of money laundering. But the most egregious indicator of who he really is came in his manipulation of the laws of New York City to get a third term as Mayor. What’s the sense of trading one arrogant con man with no sense of propriety for another?
One of the few things left in American politics today that is true and wholesome is the effort that candidates have to expend to meet voters and convince them he or she is the person for the job. It requires hard work, long days and long nights. It requires a certain degree of personality and natural charisma, and it requires a degree of knowledge about the concerns of those voters. Votes are earned. He doesn’t like Donald Trump. Big deal, none of us like Donald Trump, but that doesn’t qualify him to be our nominee.
Regardless of who you may support for the nomination, each of them has gone through a heart-wrenching gauntlet in getting to where they are. We’ve got a lot of good people on the slate who have given much to this nomination process. I’m very proud of the entire field but giving even a moment’s consideration for someone like Michael Bloomberg, is one moment too much.
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