Michael Bloomberg Has An Anti-Democratic Streak

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Michael Bloomberg’s lia­bil­i­ties as a polit­i­cal can­di­date are so glar­ing­ly obvi­ous that it’s easy to dis­miss his pres­i­den­tial bid as a van­i­ty project. He is utter­ly devoid of charis­ma, has no real organ­ic base in the Democratic Party, and is a viable can­di­date only because he’s filthy rich and is will­ing to inun­date the race by open­ing up his near­ly lim­it­less mon­ey pit.

This unpre­pos­sess­ing pro­file hasn’t stopped big name pun­dits like Tom Friedman and Bret Stephens, both appear­ing in the pages of in The New York Times, from extolling Bloomberg as a poten­tial sav­ior. Writing even before Bloomberg entered the race, Stephens argued that all the exist­ing Democratic can­di­dates were weak against Trump except for Bloomberg.

But if trounc­ing Donald Trump is essen­tial to the preser­va­tion of lib­er­al democ­ra­cy, then it won’t do to cross fin­gers and hope he stum­bles,” Stephens averred. “A Bloomberg can­di­da­cy would be a gift to Democrats, the coun­try, and the world. Sneer at it at your per­il.” Heeding Stephens’s injunc­tion, I forced myself to momen­tar­i­ly stop sneer­ing at Bloomberg’s can­di­da­cy and try to empathize with his sup­port­ers. To go by Bloomberg’s words and those of advo­cates like Stephens, the case for Bloomberg goes some­thing like this: In an age of polar­iza­tion, Bloomberg could bring the nation togeth­er by being the voice of cen­trists who are being aban­doned by both the right and left. Bloomberg’s polit­i­cal pro­file of social lib­er­al­ism com­bined with eco­nom­ic con­ser­vatism would draw vot­ers who don’t like Donald Trump but find Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders too rad­i­cal. He’s more men­tal­ly agile than Joe Biden and less cal­low than Pete Buttigieg. Bloomberg could not only defeat Trump but also pull the United States away from the polar­iz­ing pop­ulism offered by the extreme left and the extreme right, polit­i­cal ten­den­cies that are desta­bi­liz­ing democ­ra­cy.
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