Michael Bloomberg and the Dangers of ‘Any Blue Will Do’ Politics
The American Prospect - February 17, 2020
"Under Bloomberg, the New York Police Department locked up thousands of people during that 2004 Republican National Convention for the crime of preparing to exercise their free-speech rights; the city later had to pay the protesters $18 million for violating their civil rights. This was part of a trend that continued with the mass arrests and paramilitary-style crackdown on Occupy Wall Street protesters, which included violence against reporters and photographers; the city had to settle a lawsuit with protesters again for using pepper spray on them. The NYPD under Bloomberg also spied on Muslims who had committed no crime, a program Trump has praised. Trump doesn’t control a municipal police force, but if he did, what Bloomberg carried out approaches what Trump’s response would look like. (Perhaps how ICE is run can offer an analogue.)"
I have been on the record as saying that Michael Bloomberg will never become the president of the United States. The line I wrote in 2016 holds up: “An anti-teachers’-union, anti-gun, pro-nanny state, pro-Wall Street, pro-stop-and- frisk, pro-inequality, pro-immigration, pro-surveillance, pro-Iraq War neoconservative is almost surgically designed to repel practically every American voter on some level.” For that reason alone, the flirtation with making this guy the Democratic nominee should cause serious alarm to anyone who wants to defeat Donald Trump. Plus, Bloomberg has vowed to spend his money until November no matter who is the nominee, instantly undercutting the only real value of his candidacy.
But in the few months since Bloomberg announced, we have all gotten hard lessons in the power of money and advertising, the lack of principle within the professional political class, and the way in which the Trump ascendancy has broken the brains of so many Americans. There’s now a path for a general election campaign between dueling plutocrats, which would make a mockery of our politics and obliterate the Democratic Party as a tribune of the people.
And I’m going to say something controversial. There has been plenty of conjecture over whether a Trump-like figure could take over the Democratic Party. And I would say with Bloomberg that we’re about to find out. The cries of “Bloomberg is not Trump!” will rain down on me now, and, of course, he’s not. But there are a disturbing number of similarities. We have a figure without connections or the same value system as the party he seeks to represent, with racial and sexist skeletons in his closet, and a penchant for subverting democracy and showing contempt toward the rule of law. Democrats who are acting as pundits and thinking that Bloomberg offers the most certain close to the Trump era are playing with a stick of dynamite.
Let’s take these points in turn. Michael Bloomberg won his first term as New York City mayor as a Republican. He was a featured speaker at the Republican National Convention in New York in 2004, endorsing George W. Bush and the war on terrorism. He has supported numerous Republican candidates for office with tens of millions of dollars, including Scott Brown over Elizabeth Warren. He supported the state Republican Party in New York to keep them from attacking him over his party switch to independent while mayor.
Bloomberg opposed union contracts and public spending repeatedly in office, while favoring welfare for the rich to attract them to the city. Today he claims to be a liberal Democrat in favor of gun safety and climate preservation. He opposed minimum wage increases before and supports them now. The pattern is of someone choosing sides and deploying money to win favor, purely for political expediency. There’s no core there—just like Trump. ...
Read full report at The American Prospect