The senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, is right: Michael Bloomberg is just “some billionaire who decides that he wants to run for president of the United States because he’s a billionaire.”
Few could afford to start so late in the race; there are less than three months left before the first vote: the Iowa caucuses. Bloomberg can flirt with the idea, because he can afford to.
Overnight, he could hire the very best advisers, invest in setting up teams on the ground in a large number of states and flood them with advertisements extolling his merits. All this is expensive. The living proof: some Democratic candidates have recently had to dismiss employees and close their offices in key states.
That being said, Sanders would do well to be more sympathetic to the former mayor of New York. If the latter is considering becoming a candidate more seriously than ever, it’s not just because he’s rolling in money. It is also because of the perceived weakness of the current candidates. In recent days, American media are reporting palpable nervousness among some party leaders on this issue.
Bloomberg is rightly worried about the consequences of a possible Trump reelection. And Bloomberg believes that none of the current candidates—including Sanders—will be able to defeat the Republican president in November 2020.
He is not the only one among the Democrats to fear a disaster or to dream of a messiah. The former governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, has also just announced that he is thinking of running for office.
There are many calling for the appearance of a candidate who will not fail to chase Trump out of the White House. They might as well be calling for the the arrival of a candidate who can walk on water!
The most difficult problem for Bloomberg is that he does not have the makings of a savior in himself.
It is too early to say that he is going to hit a brick wall. But let’s just say that the first responses, both in terms of reactions and the first opinion polls about the 77-year-old politician and businessman, are not at all reassuring.
On Sunday, the firm Morning Consult revealed—drum roll, please—that Bloomberg ranks … sixth among Democrats in terms of voting preference, with a meager result of 4%. Hmm. … By way of comparison, Joe Biden was in first place, with 31%.
Of course, you have to give the candidate a chance. Perhaps his message as a pragmatic and centrist candidate, like Biden, would be more appealing to voters once his campaign is launched. Especially since he could inject such huge sums of money to promote it.
But maybe not. Sanders, cut to the quick by Bloomberg’s intentions, also argued that a billionaire is not the person best placed to address head-on questions about the growing inequalities in the United States. Sanders is not the only Democrat to think so.
Speaking of which, that’s not the only criticism of Bloomberg. His track record from his time as mayor of New York also failed to win unanimous support.
In particular, many criticize the increase in arbitrary questioning by police using stop-and-frisk searches under his tenure. A columnist for The New York Times recently even suggested that this policy alone justifies opposing his candidacy.
On the other hand, Bloomberg, as a philanthropist, has espoused crucial causes for the Democrats in recent years, such as gun control and the fight against climate change.
Bloomberg’s bet is dangerous, but in the end, it simply reflects how dangerous the whole Democratic Party’s bet is.
The Democrats should not, at this point, be actively seeking a plan B, or C or even D, to defeat a weak president. And yet, as unbearable as it seems to us, the stakes are so high that that’s exactly what they’re doing.
Voting Preference Among Democrats:
Elizabeth Warren: 18%
Pete Buttigieg: 8%
Kamala Harris: 6%
Source: Morning Consult/Politico Survey, carried out Nov. 8 by 2,225 potential Democratic voters, with regard to the party’s leadership.