By Richard DeShay Elliott
If I said that a New York billionaire with an extensive history of racism, misogyny, sexual harassment, and switching political parties was up for election in 2020, you’d assume that I was talking about Donald Trump.
Instead, I am referring to the newest entrant to the 2020 Democratic primary field: Mike Bloomberg, the former Republican/Independent Mayor of New York City who is steadily rising in the polls and is already at 10-15%.
Michael Bloomberg is currently buying the Democratic Party, a vote at a time: Endorsements from mayors such as D.C’s Muriel Bowser and San Francisco’s London Breed, who he’s invested millions in through grants and are now defending his policy record.
Endorsements from congressional Democrats and state leadership, undoubtedly in exchange for campaign donations. Favorable media coverage through his self-named media empire. Massive donations to the Democratic National Committee. Over $300,000,000have been spent on commercials and staffing, allowing him to blanket states months in advance and poach staffers from other campaigns and organizations with unheard-of salaries and perks.
How much do you think he can buy the Party for, $2,000,000,000?
His campaign strategy is not to mobilize voters or to sway voters with public policy. It is to outspend everyone else in the Democratic field combined, buy enough ad space to block out other campaigns, and buy the support of enough superdelegates to get the nomination after the first ballot of the 2020 Democratic National Convention.
This is a disgustingly undemocratic, plutocratic venture – and it should be repudiated.
In many ways, Bloomberg is a Trump analog
Bloomberg has nearly 40 claims of sexual harassment and gender discrimination as an employer, from over 64 women. He has numerous misogynistic comments on the record, including in his biography. For instance: Bloomberg defended his longtime close pal Charlie Rose, who was fired from CBS and PBS in 2017 after multiple women alleged that he made unwanted sexual advances on his female colleagues and subordinates.
“The stuff I read about is disgraceful—I don’t know how true all of it is. I never saw anything and we have no record, we’ve checked very carefully,” Bloomberg told the New York Times. He was in notorious child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein’s “black book” and also holds the heinous view that transgender people are just “men in a dress.”
On Racial Justice
Bloomberg’s record on racial justice is appalling. His implementation of stop-and-frisk policing criminalized a generation of Black and Brown New Yorkers, violating civil rights and privacy rights while building a mass incarceration pipeline that directly caused horror stories such as Kalief Browder’s, who served 3 years in Rikers Island without a trial or conviction and later committed suicide.
According to the New York Civil Liberties Union, over 5,000,000 stops were made under Bloomberg’s tenure and nearly 90% of those stopped were innocent. This practice was found unconstitutional in 2013 but was not significantly reduced until Bloomberg left office. Bloomberg has given phony apologies in recent days, claiming that policies that he directly implemented and doubled down upon “did not reflect the way he governed.”
During his tenure as Mayor, he expanded charter schools and both gentrification and homelessness worsened as income inequality skyrocketed. He blamed the 2008 financial crisis on the end of redlining: government-mandated segregation policies that denied access to mortgages in Black and Brown communities.
A quote from Bloomberg in 2015: “It’s controversial, but first thing is all of your — 95 percent of your murders, and murderers, and murder victims fit one M.O. You can just take the description, Xerox it, and pass it out to all of the cops. They are male, minorities, 15 to 25. That’s true in New York, it’s true in virtually every city in America. And that’s where the real crime is. You’ve got to get the guns out of the hands of the people getting killed.”
Sounds Trumpian, right?
Bloomberg has a strong authoritarian streak. He illegally arrested and detained nearly 2,000 protestors during the 2004 Republican National Convention, holding many for longer than 24 hours. He later arrested over 700 Occupy Wall Street protestors – including journalists and innocent bystanders – during night raids. Other tactics to break the protest included agent provocateurs, tear-gassing, and beating of protestors.
Under Bloomberg’s command, the NYPD engaged in unconstitutional surveillance of mosques, Muslim community associations, student groups, and other Muslim organizations under the guise of counterterrorism. This includes every mosque within 100 miles of New York City, including beyond the borders of New York State.
He’s an elitist who thinks he’s above the rules and better than working people.
He forced the New York City Council to extend term limits and pressured charity groups to support him, granting Bloomberg a 3rd term. He strongly supports regressive taxes, such as the soda tax, primarily impacting the poor, lowering the tax burden of plutocrats like him.
He strongly opposes a living wage for working families. He claimed that homelessness worsened during his tenure because “the homeless shelters were so nice,” a claim disputed by current New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. He’s even claimed that taxing the rich is worse than income inequality. Bloomberg has also donated considerable resources to Republicans and endorsed Republicans as recently as 2018.
Bloomberg, by the numbers
- Bloomberg won the 2001 mayoral race with the endorsement of term-limited Republican Mayor Rudy Giuliani. He spent $74,000,000 on TV and direct mail in the last weeks of the race to defeat progressive Democrat Mark Green – a record for non-presidential spending that he would later break in 2005;
- During the 2004 Republican National Convention, Bloomberg endorsed George W. Bush for re-election;
- Independence USA, a super PAC exclusively funded by Bloomberg, spent $2.3 million on ads backing then-Gov. Rick Snyder (R) of Michigan in his successful re-election bid, months after the Flint water crisis began;
- Bloomberg also held a fundraiser for Snyder at his home in New York. After Snyder’s win, Bloomberg said Snyder was “an extremely competent guy who took on the unions to get Detroit and Michigan going in the right direction. And he was re-elected despite being attacked by the unions.” Snyder had signed anti-union “Right to Work” legislation in late 2012. The former New York City mayor also praised Snyder’s expansion of public charter schools;
- Since 1987, according to Federal Election Commission records, Bloomberg donated over $900,000 directly to Republican candidates’ campaigns, national GOP party committees, and federal PACs of state Republican Party committees. Recipients include former Rep. Dan Donovan of Staten Island, New York, whom he has given a total of $10,800, including $5,400 in 2018; former Sen. John McCain ($13,700 total); Rudy Giuliani, who has become one of Donald Trump’s closest devotees ($5,000); and Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby ($4,000);
- Bloomberg has given $4.6 million to New York state GOP party committees and roughly $300,000 to Republican state and local candidates. He even donated $250,000 to the West Main Street Values PAC – by far the group’s largest contribution–which spent $272,381 to help Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) win re-election. The super PAC also spent six figures against Democratic Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico;
- Bloomberg’s Independence USAsuper PAC, which he funds exclusively, spent nearly $10.1 million supporting Republican federal candidates from 2012-16. The majority of that, $5.9 million, helped Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) win re-election in 2016 against Democrat Katie McGinty, an environmental policy expert, and an Emily’s List endorsee;
- In 2014, the super PAC boosted Republican House candidates Bob Dold (IL; $1.9 million) and Michael Fitzpatrick (PA; $174,000). Two years earlier, Independence USAhad spent $1.7 million backing Connecticut House candidate Andrew Rorabach, as well as $963,000 supporting Dold;
- Bloomberg was one of the biggest donors to single-candidate super PAC Mississippi Conservatives, which backed then-Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) in a contested GOP primary in 2014;
- In 2012, Bloomberg endorsed Republican Scott Brown in his Massachusetts Senate race against Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who is now one of Bloomberg’s primary opponents;
- In 2018, Bloomberg held a $10,000 fundraiser for New York Republican Peter King at his home.
If you want to support a candidate with a policy record that is worse than Trump’s, who has a character problem worse than Trump, and who donates heavily to Republicans, Bloomberg is a strong candidate.
If you want to support a Democrat, a liberal, a progressive, or a moderate, don’t support Bloomberg.
Mr. DeShay Elliott is a Ph. D candidate at Johns Hopkins University. You can find him on Twitter at @RichElliottMD and Facebook.
The views expressed in guest columns are those of the authors; they do not necessarily reflect the views of A Miner Detail and its editor in chief.