The Speaker
Tuesday, 5 December 2023 – 01:28

Billionaire Bloomberg should not be allowed to buy the Democratic nomination

NOTE: This is an opinion article – any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Speaker or any members of its team.

Recently, I wrote an article outlining reasons why I believe Pete Buttigieg should not be the Democratic nominee for president. 

I did not think that I would have to write a second article, just two weeks later, this time about another Democratic candidate. A candidate who is far worse than Pete Buttigieg. A candidate who was previously a Republican. A candidate who has bought his way into the running for the Democratic nomination. Michael Bloomberg and his record really need to be discussed.

Firstly, it is an outrage that the former Mayor of New York and philanthropist has essentially been able to buy his way into the nomination process. The total spending on his campaign has exceeded $500 million, the most expensive in American history by a wide margin, and he only launched his campaign in November 2019, showing that his deep pockets will only continue to be emptied as the gains momentum and support. The 9th richest man in the world, who is worth a tidy $61.9 billion, also took the unprecedented step of buying a $10 million, 60-second commercial to air during the Super Bowl. His barrage of advertising has resulted in Bloomberg being able to increase his poll numbers considerably, as Democratic moderates seek a candidate who can compete with the frontrunner Bernie Sanders, who is ideologically positioned on the left of the party. Despite entering the race with a mere 3% support, a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed support for Bloomberg had increased to 14%, and he is leading in some states such as Oklahoma and Florida.

This seems unfair. Why should a plutocrat worth $61.9 billion be able to self-fund his entire campaign and garner so much media attention, when other viable candidates with less financial capabilities, such as Andrew Yang, Kamala Harris or Cory Booker, have to drop out because they simply do not have the funds to continue? It is not as if he has been in the race from the beginning either. He did not even have his name on the ballot paper in Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina, and has only participated in one debate, where he was grilled by the other hopefuls, most notably Elizabeth Warren. For reference, Warren declared she was running for president in February 2019, whereas Bloomberg only began his campaign in November 2019. She had spent $68 million at the end of 2019, whereas he had $188 million at the same point. Wouldn’t you agree that having an obscene amount of wealth and financial capital helps when running for president?

The other candidates have been touring the country, interacting with residents and making stump speeches, whereas Bloomberg has generally been reliant on his television advertisements and the media to spread his message and get his name across to the electorate. Bloomberg has also bought more than just advertisement sand slick television commercials though. He has received dozens of endorsements from Democratic mayors and politicians who have directly benefitted from his donations and philanthropy in the past. For example, Governor Gina Raimondo recently endorsed Bloomberg, who herself has been reliant on Bloomberg and his donations since 2012.

It is not as if his record is much better than his unethical campaign strategy either. Reports have emerged that have presented the former Mayor of New York as sexist and out of touch. The Washington Post republished a 1990 booklet in which Bloomberg said some disparaging comments about the British royal family: “What a bunch of misfits – a gay, an architect, that horsey faced lesbian, and a kid who gave up Koo Stark for some fat broad”. Though they were comments made 30 years ago, they certainly do not present him as a man who is a role model or of good character. With a current president that has said equally vile things about women in the past, would we really want two candidates that have a history of lewd and sexist comments competing against each other for the presidency?

During his tenure as Mayor of New York, he was also criticised for his implementation of stop and frisk policy, where minorities were targeted by the police on the streets of New York City. At a 2015 conference, he defended the policy stating:

“You can just take the description, Xerox it, and pass it out to all the cops. They [suspects] are male, minorities, 16 to 25. That’s true in New York; that’s true in virtually every city.”

Conveniently, after announcing his candidacy he apologised for implementing the policy, but does he really think that this paints him in a positive light? Fair enough, he is a supporter of gun control and is firmly pro-choice, but are we really setting the bar that low for a Democratic nominee for the highest political office in the world? Surely his policies and record should have ruled him out before he even announced he was running?

The American public are tired with money dominating politics, evidenced by the large support for Bernie Sanders in this campaign. America needs fewer billionaires and more people standing up for working Americans. Bloomberg throughout his career has been critical of unions and only until recently had opposed raising the minimum wage. Is he really the man to fight on behalf of millions of working people?

Ultimately, I think Bernie Sanders said it best when he said recently: “Even though Bloomberg has the ability to run for president, it does not give him the right to buy the presidency”.


Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore via Flickr under licence (CC BY-SA 2.0) 



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