Who wants Michael Bloomberg for president?

Story highlights

Jay Parini: Bloomberg saying again he might run

Aren't we tired of billionaires deciding because they're rich they can be president?

He says his NY tenure left the city a place for the 1%

Some of his policies at odds with both Dems and GOP, but as candidate he'd hand win to GOP

Editor’s Note: Jay Parini, a poet and novelist, teaches at Middlebury College in Vermont and is the author of “Empire of Self: A Life of Gore Vidal.” The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

CNN —  

Aren’t we tired of billionaires who think that just because they have a lot more money in their pockets than we do they deserve to run for president?

I’m not thinking so much about Donald Trump as Michael Bloomberg, the former Mayor of New York City, who has once again been floating the idea that he might run, possibly as a Third Party candidate. Yes, it’s ludicrous.

At least Trump – and this is a very big “at least” – has done the hard work of actually running. He has sat in his big airplane, in his helicopters, and whizzed around the country from east to west and north to south.

He has met voters. He has made the speeches and signed the posters and kissed the babies. He has, more or less, debated fellow candidates. In another words, he has taken the job of running for high office seriously.

Trump has never held public office before, but that doesn’t deter him. He’s rich, after all. And – just ask him – he knows how to make America rich again.

Bloomberg, by contrast, has simply said that he is “considering” a run for the presidency because His Majesty doesn’t think there has been serious debate coming from either party. His initial comments in late January didn’t seem to awaken the chickens, and now he’s trying again, clearing his throat, as if we didn’t hear him the first time:

Hey, you guys: Didn’t year hear me? I’m thinking about the presidency! Me! I’m thinking!

As Trevor Timm has noted in the Guardian, Bloomberg has “no chance” of becoming president, as his candidacy represents a “perfect storm” of sorts. Both parties hate what he stands for. For Republicans, he has all the wrong ideas about things like gun control. On social issues, he’s a liberal. For instance, he has called abortion a “fundamental human right.”

02:02 - Source: CNN
Michael Bloomberg considering entering 2016 race

He supports same-sex marriage. On immigration, he has argued for normalizing the legal status of law-abiding immigrants. He has suggested that a candidate’s religious views should be kept private.

For Democrats, he is the embodiment of Wall Street and the 1%. Indeed, a few years ago he dropped into the offices of Goldman Sachs just to tell them to keep their chin up, in a widely reported public display of affection for stock traders and investment bankers. He has attacked the media for “piling on” the bank, saying it was “ridiculous” for them to be the subject of scorn. Who doesn’t love Goldman Sachs?

As the eighth richest man on the Forbes list of wealthy Americans, with a net worth of over $38 billion, he pretty much embodies the plutocrat. While in office as mayor – a period of 12 years – his wealth increased sevenfold. And yet he fought hard against paying workers in the city a living wage.

Steven Wishnia at Talking Points Memo put it well a few years ago in his sendoff to the departing Bloomberg administration: “If Manhattan were an independent nation, its income inequality would rank with South Africa’s and Namibia’s.”

New York, under Bloomberg, became a city for the wealthiest, and a place where anyone making an ordinary wage is in deep trouble. Wishnia wrote: “In Bloomberg’s New York, more than 60% of the 3 million people who make less than $35,000 a year spend more than half their income on rent. ”

Anyone who has tried to live in New York without an income approaching the seven figures will know what a strain it can be. You don’t have to be an economist to understand what’s going on: The rich get richer, the poor get poorer. And Bloomberg is the public face of this old saw.

So what is he doing? Doesn’t he understand that if he runs, say, as a third-party candidate, he will simply hand the election to the Republicans? And doesn’t he realize this will ensure a Supreme Court that will stand behind easy money for politicians for decades to come?

Does he want the federal government to operate as a kind of cheering squad for corporations, making sure they can treat their employees and customers in any way they choose?

I fear he does.

If that isn’t what he intends, he should stop the nonsense and be quiet.

It seems depressingly true that the American press will fawn over every billionaire who needs attention every time there is a presidential run in the offing. It must be fun for them to sign posters and make speeches and fly around the country in private jets. It must be fun to speak to adoring crowds.

But is this what American democracy has become, yet another playground for the rich?

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