Announcing his presidential bid this week, Michael Bloomberg summoned every good thing he ever did, from his days as a boy scout, to affordable housing, to banning cigarettes in restaurants when he
In a little over a ninety second ad, you see Bloomberg riding a tricycle, standing in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack, marching in a parade down Fifth Avenue, and other significant moments during his 12 years in office.
About as close as he gets to the heavy political baggage of stop-and-frisk in which some 5 million citizens, mostly young Black and Latino men and boys, were stopped during his tenure as mayor, were his remarks about reducing gun violence and about “righting wrongs that have fallen heaviest on the most vulnerable communities. I know government can improve people’s lives—because when I ran New York City, that’s exactly what we did.”
Of course he addressed this issue with an apology at the Christian Cultural Center before a packed congregation that was received with tepid applause. Now that he is officially in the race he is sure to have that mistake thrown back at him by the other candidates. And expect Sen. Elizabeth Warren to have the perfect foil for her plan to tax the rich.
Senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, if Bloomberg makes it to the debate stage next month, will take him to task on how his focus to make things better only made them worse for certain members of the community.
Already Sen. Bernie Sanders has commented on Bloomberg’s vast wealth, reportedly more than $50 billion with millions in his war chest, declaring that Bloomberg “cannot buy this election.” That was even more true years ago when Nelson Rockefeller failed to purchase the presidency.
“I’m running for president to defeat Donald Trump and rebuild America,” Bloomberg said, in what may be the slogan of his campaign. “We cannot afford four more years of President Trump’s reckless and unethical actions. He represents an existential threat to our country and our values. If he wins another term in office, we may never recover from the damage. The stakes could not be higher. We must win this election. And we must begin rebuilding America.”
One could point to Bloomberg’s wealth as a positive since he wouldn’t be beholden to special interests. But that same wealth means he’s not beholden to anyone so he can do what he wants. Another road block for the former mayor of New York City is getting America to vote for a Jewish billionaire who owns his own media company. With the resurrection of public displays of anti-Semitism under the Trump regime, Bloomberg might have a hard time convincing America to chose him over a man who purports to hate the same people they hate.
But according to anti-police brutality activist Josmar Trujillo, Trump and Bloomberg are the same person.
“Given that President Donald Trump has repeatedly touted stop-and-frisk, Bloomberg’s signature policing policy, there appears to be little discernible differences between the two on the crucial issues of race and law enforcement,” said Trujillo. “Both men are arrogant businessmen who think that their wealth makes them qualified to be president. Bloomberg’s legacy as mayor of NYC, however, offers something that in some ways is worse than Trump: a man who steamrolled millions of people’s lives for 12 long years as he turned New York City into a corporatized police state.”
Former Vice President and current Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden seemed to be the front runner for the nomination, but has recently fallen in some polls. A recent piece in the New York Times notices that Biden has fallen a bit in the Iowa polls while South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg has taken the lead. However, according to a recent Morning Consult poll, Biden has a nine-point lead on Sanders nationally 32% to 20% while Warren fell back a bit at 17%.
With all of the uncertainty surrounding the Democratic primaries, Bloomberg might smell blood in the water of the Democratic party: a party divided by the agendas of different groups and elected officials. It’s one of the drawbacks to having a diverse group of people under one umbrella. Different desires, wants and agendas.
But Jose Lopez, spokesperson for Communities United for Police Reform Action Fund, said Bloomberg or Trump wouldn’t be a great for Black and Brown Americans.
“Bloomberg consistently supported the goals of NYC’s racist police unions through his obstruction of democratic processes, litigation to appeal police accountability measures, and his threats to personally finance campaigns to unseat elected officials who supported police accountability,” said Lopez. “Instead of investing city resources in community infrastructure that would have made New York’s communities of color safer, he championed neoliberal policies that disinvested from community infrastructure like affordable housing, leading to a trend of hyper-gentrification, displacement and increased policing of low-income New Yorkers of color.”
Bloomberg’s political leanings are considered centrist at best. In an era where liberals have gone more to the left and have openly advocated for socialism, Bloomberg’s presence could upset the more extreme left wing of the party. But outside of social media, all people want is someone with the best chance of beating Trump. Bloomberg’s worth is close to $54 billion. He has the wealth to fund lots of anti-Trump commercials and dominate television ad sorts. But other Dems could use his police, racial and social inequality record against him.
“I’ve worked very hard to make sure that we tackled discrimination wherever I saw it,” said Bloomberg while taking questions post-speech in Virginia. “New York City has a record that’s not perfect, but I think we should be proud of it in terms of making it a city that’s open to everyone.”
But according to VOCAL-NY Co-Director Jeremy Saunders, Bloomberg’s record on race issues leave a lot to be desired.
“Bloomberg drove income inequality, gentrification and homelessness in New York City. He made our city the global leader in low-level marijuana arrests—with massive racial disparities despite white New Yorkers using marijuana at similar rates—as stop-and-frisk made many New Yorkers feel they lived in an apartheid city,” said Saunders. “Then he used his wealth and power to buy himself a third term in office.
“I would hope these are not the qualities most Americans are looking for in a presidential candidate,” concluded Saunders.