Ian Streeter ‘20, Social Media Manager
In the wave of the 2020 presidential election, an unexpected contender for the Democratic nominee has emerged: Michael Bloomberg. The former mayor of New York City (2002-2013) and the CEO of media and financial company Bloomberg L.P., he announced his candidacy in November 2019 and within just four months is already being considered one of the most viable people to defeat President Donald Trump in the 2020 election. What sets him apart from other candidates, however, is that he is uniquely scary from many fronts.
Why is this the case? There are a variety of reasons, but they mostly come down to his immense wealth and the resulting power he has in this election. According to NPR, Bloomberg has spent 450 million of his estimated 61.9 billion dollars in net worth on campaign advertisements. This is reflected in the prevalence of his presidential ads in everyday life: whether you’re passing by a billboard on the street as you go out or doing something innocuous like watching a YouTube video or TV show, you will more than likely see a Bloomberg ad. By spending so much of his money on advertisements, he is essentially inundating the public with the message that he has the best shot of defeating Trump and manufacturing support simply through the fact that his wealth allows him to use his ads as propaganda. This is a privilege that less wealthy candidates such as Bernie Sanders do not have. This is also antithetical to the value of meritocracy that America cherishes, since Bloomberg’s money essentially puts him at a head start above all other candidates. Though they may try just as hard if not harder than him, they do not have the money to get the recognition that he now has from putting ads everywhere; they are thus put at a disadvantage. He is essentially trying to buy his way into the election with his ad spending, and that is not how American democracy was ever intended or supposed to operate.
The other main reason that Bloomberg’s rise should be scary to anyone who cares about democracy or civil rights is Bloomberg’s questionable policy history. For years, as the mayor of New York City, he was a top proponent of stop-and-frisk, a policy in which police detain, question, and search civilians for possession of illegal items. Though this policy is supported by President Trump and others, Bloomberg’s approach to stop-and-frisk was particularly worrisome because he specifically advocated for putting more cops in minority neighborhoods as opposed to white ones because “that’s where all the crime is.” This is some of the most blatant racism to come from a presidential candidate to run in the past twenty years. In addition, he was a Republican for a very long time, supporting George W. Bush for president in 2004 and even as recently as 2018 raising funds for Republican candidates during that year’s midterm election.
Bloomberg also has a history of poor behavior towards women, people of color, and other minority groups. His company, Bloomberg L.P, has received 40 gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuits from 64 of Bloomberg’s employees. In one such lawsuit, a pregnant woman accused him of telling her to “kill” her baby. In addition, he has referred to transgender people as “it” in both 2016 and 2019 and has stated that young black and Latino males “do not know how to behave”, explaining why they commit a disproportionate amount of crime, when in reality, that probably has more to do with socioeconomic factors and the American prison system that often targets people of color.
Supporters often posit that Bloomberg is the “anti-Trump,” stating that his calm, safe, and civil approach comes in direct contrast to the abrasive, aggressive, and explicit ways that Trump uses to rally up his supporters and take action as president. However, between the long documented history of both candidates supporting racist policies such as stop and frisk, both having been credibly accused of making sexist comments and sexually harassing women, and both being corrupted by their wealth, it is actually the case that Bloomberg resembles Trump more than any other Democratic candidate. For that reason, if your main election priority is to boot Trump out of office in November, Bloomberg is the last choice you should ever be considering.
Photo courtesy of forward.com