Bloomberg 2020: Not *That* Rich Assh*le. *This* Rich Assh*le!
It's official. No one close to Michael Bloomberg could convince him not to run for president. The billionaire launched his hostile takeover of the Democratic Party yesterday. You knew this was coming when Bloomberg apologized last week for the "stop-and-frisk" policy that he pursued as New York City mayor. During the three terms he purchased, Bloomberg oversaw what critics described as a "war on black and brown people on the streets." Bloomberg defended the policy even when a federal judge ruled it was unconstitutional.
2013 BLOOMBERG: This is a dangerous decision made by a judge who I think does not understand how policing works and what is compliant with the U.S. Constitution as determined by the Supreme Court. I worry for my kids, and I worry for your kids. I worry for you and I worry for me. Crime can come back any time the criminals think they can get away with things. We just cannot let that happen.
Bloomberg ignored data that showed police stopped black and Latino citizens disproportionately. He insisted that terrorizing minorities was just the price people who weren't white should pay so people who were could comfortably live in an episode of "Friends." But his advisers inform him that blacks and Latinos are a sizable electorate in the Democratic primary, so now he has "regrets" and believes he was "wrong."
BLOOMBERG: Over time, I've come to understand something that I long struggled to admit to myself: I got something important wrong. I got something important really wrong. I didn't understand back then the full impact that stops were having on the black and Latino communities. I was totally focused on saving lives, but as we know, good intentions aren't good enough.
Blacks and Latinos weren't exactly quiet on the subject of how much "stop and frisk" sucked. If he didn't listen to us, he should've at least listened to the lawsuits. He's a businessman, after all. It's possible Bloomberg's apology is authentic. Donald Trump wanted to nationalize "stop and frisk," so that might've horrified him enough to reconsider. But it's just a little too late for minorities to forgive and forget. Meanwhile, conservatives are upset that Bloomberg no longer supports the police treating minorities like natural born suspects.
Rebuild America: Join Mike Bloomberg's 2020 Presidential Campaign youtu.be
That's not a great start to his campaign, and it demonstrates the obstacles Bloomberg's candidacy faces. His positions on guns, climate change, and abortion rights, along with his general resemblance to a human being, make him too liberal for Republicans. But his history with "stop-and-frisk" makes him about as popular with minority voters as Pete Buttigieg. He's also not the ideal #MeToo-era candidate. He's branding himself as a "new choice for Democrats," but we don't want any more choices. We had so many choices, we named at least five of them "Tim Ryan."
Bloomberg is flooding the airwaves with $35 million in TV ads. This is money he found in an old winter coat. He's not taking any campaign contributions, because he's his own Super PAC. This should mean he won't qualify for the next dozen Democratic debates, but he could just buy the networks airing them. People might've appreciated that he self-funded his mayoral campaigns more than a decade ago, but now we view small contributions from multiple, individual donors as a sign of grassroots support. That's slightly more democratic than a billionaire buying an election. We're in the age of crowdsourcing and Kickstarter.
Trump claims he spent $66 million of his own money running for president. That didn't make him less corrupt. Billionaires funding their own vanity campaign just aren't as impressive as normal candidates convincing normal people to hand over their hard-earned money. When she ran for Senate in 2006, Amy Klobuchar raised $17,000 from her ex-boyfriends. That's skill.
Bloomberg also boasts that he won't accept a salary as president. This is a job not an internship. The president is paid $400,000 a year. I want a candidate who actually needs that money: "Hi, I'm running for president because I want to bring real change to Washington. I'd also like to move out of my mother's house." Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos both give away most of the income they earn destroying the country. Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner haunt the White House for "free." These aren't bargains. Wealthy politicians should instead pledge to live on just their salaries while in office.
It seems like Bloomberg wants to run a Donald Trump campaign without Donald Trump. But even if you remove Trump's gross corruption, casual extortion, and overt bigotry, we still don't need any more billionaire presidents. One was more than enough.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle.