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A Republican Plutocrat Tries To Buy The Democratic Nomination



The idea of Michael Bloomberg becoming the Democratic presidential nominee should be too absurd to even consider seriously. For one thing, he is a conservative who openly believes that the poor should be ruled over by the super-rich and is trying to buy the nomination outright. He has a history of saying monstrously offensive things about women and transgender people, and oversaw an infamous racist police regime that terrorized Black and Hispanic New Yorkers. If he did somehow manage to spend his way to the nomination, bypassing the democratic process, it would be such an outrage—and so demoralizing to the Democratic base—that it would guarantee Trump’s reelection. If the choice were between two sexist billionaires who hate the poor, how many young people would drag themselves to the polls to support “our side’s” billionaire? It would permanently disillusion an entire generation and vindicate every cynical theory of politics as a domain where money rules absolutely.

But, troublingly, Michael Bloomberg’s candidacy has not entirely been laughed out of the room. A number of prominent Democratic officials, liberal intellectuals, and celebrities have endorsed him, including San Francisco mayor London Breed, Illinois congressman Bobby Rush, Stockton mayor Michael Tubbs, Rhode Island governor Gina Raimondo, TV’s Judge Judy, and singer John Mellencamp. Henry Louis Gates promoted Michael Bloomberg, and Evicted author Matthew Desmond effusively praised Bloomberg’s housing plan (without officially endorsing him). Some of this seems a little strange—why is a sociologist known for studying evictions boosting the guy responsible for the New York homelessness crisis? Why are dozens of liberal elected officials suddenly stumping for a Republican billionaire?

In the case of some elected officials, the answer seems to be simple bribery. Bloomberg “has supported 196 different cities with grants, technical assistance and education programs worth a combined $350 million” and “now, leaders in some of those cities are forming the spine of Mr. Bloomberg’s campaign.” The mayors have all “attended his prestigious boot camp at Harvard that gives the mayors access to ongoing strategic advice from Bloomberg-funded experts” and “more than half have received funding… worth a total of nearly $10 million.” Bloomberg has been good to them and promises to keep being good to them in the future; endorsing him will probably guarantee the cash keeps flowing. Bloomberg hands out bags of money, they come on board.

But, beyond people he outright bribes, Bloomberg has another potential source of support: Democratic elites who desperately want to stop Bernie Sanders from being the party’s nominee. With Joe Biden having collapsed in Iowa, Pete Buttigieg incapable of winning the votes of young people and African Americans, and Elizabeth Warren currently trailing Sanders, there are plenty looking for a last-minute candidate to stop the Sanders surge. As a Bloomberg adviser put it, “Mike may end up as the only thing standing between Bernie and the nomination.”


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