Bernie, Bloomberg, and the Other Billionaire

There’s one reason why it’s a good thing that Wall Street billionaire Michael Bloomberg is trying to buy the Presidency: it could remove the issue of age for those concerned about candidates in their 70s. Bloomberg is 79, the same age as Bernie.

Bloomberg’s desperate move is happening following Biden’s persistent stumbles and weaknesses, and after Buttigieg’s 0% level of support from African Americans in a Quinnipiac poll. Zero percent!

As of now, from many different angles, Bernie is looking good, Buttigieg not so much, and Bloomberg is a big question mark. It was interesting, though, to see yesterday that FiveThirtyEight put Bloomberg’s odds at 1 out of 100 for winning the nomination, vs. Pete’s 1 out of 20 and Bernie in the lead overall at 1 out of 2. Go Bernie, go!

However, despite those 100 to 1 odds, my political sense is that it looks like Bernie is going to have to vanquish two billionaires to move into the White House next January, first Wall Street Mike and then Mafioso Don. I will go so far as to predict that sometime in March the Democratic primary race will evolve into a head-to-head match-up between the working class champion and the rep of the billionaire class.

Bloomberg is already starting to get the support of Democratic elected officials who have been in the Biden lane. I’m sure he’ll get more. And I’m starting to see a couple of friends of mine on Facebook indicating openness to the guy, friends who are not supporting Bernie.

I get it. We’re facing in the Trumpublicans quite literally the face of 21st century fascism—climate-denying, racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-immigrant, lying, repressive government aligned with the fossil fuel industry and the most reactionary sectors of the corporate class. Faced with this fact, Bloomberg can be seen as a lifeline, a savior, someone riding to the rescue just in the nick of time. Indeed, that’s the way his ads portray him.

It’s not, “Not Me, Us,” for the Wall Street billionaire. It’s me, me, me as the one who will stop Trump and put everything right.

Robert Kuttner in the American Prospect had a short description of the guy: “Bloomberg eliminates the middleman—he’s not a wannabe or a sycophant but a real-deal, full-on Wall Street billionaire. He’s good on social issues, terrible on the rigged rules that enable oligarchs like himself and invite Trumpism.”

One of more than one problem area for him is his advocacy of stop-and-frisk police practices when Mayor of New York City, for which he apologized about three months ago. To which, according to Wikipedia, current NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio said, “This is LONG overdue and the timing is transparent and cynical.”

I do have to admit that Bloomberg does seem to get it on the climate crisis, and that is important given our desperate reality. He contributed tens of millions to the Sierra Club to help their Beyond Coal campaign although, up until very recently, he was a big supporter of fracking and gas. Now, he says this on his campaign website as far as that critical issue:

“Stop the rush to build new gas plants. He will move swiftly to set stringent carbon and pollution limits on new power plants – to avoid the buildout of new sources of emissions and pollution. Currently, more than 150 proposed new gas plants and related pipelines threaten to lock in high carbon emissions for decades. With coal declining in the U.S., gas is the leading contributor to dangerous emissions that accelerate climate change.”

This is definitely not a Trumpian approach, and it is a definite improvement over his past overt support for fracking. But it doesn’t come close to Bernie’s Green New Deal proposal.

I hope I’m wrong about it becoming a Sanders vs. Bloomberg head-to-head. I hope all of the many reasons why Bloomberg is decidedly not the answer to our critical situation end up stalling his current rise in polling. However that turns out, though, I will continue to do all I can to help make Bernie and us (“not me, us”) the winner on November 3.

Ted Glick has been a progressive activist, organizer and writer since 1968. He can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jtglick. Read other articles by Ted, or visit Ted's website.