When Mike Bloomberg spent millions of dollars in the 2019 elections in Virginia backing anti-gun candidates and helping Democrats regain control of the state legislature, the Left praised him for throwing his wads of campaign cash at anti-gun candidates.
Now that Bloomberg is climbing in polls for the Democratic nomination (he’s overtaken Pete Buttigieg in the Real Clear Politics polling average and is now in 4th place behind Biden, Sanders, and Warren), the Left suddenly has a problem with Bloomberg’s playbook and are complaining that he’s buying his way to the nomination. From Politico:
“He has a long history of big-money self-promotion, but he wants to play senior statesmen and try to get people to believe he’s just taking one for the team,” said Zephyr Teachout, a law professor who has run for statewide office in New York and is aligned with Bernie Sanders.
“But he’s spending hundreds of millions because he wants the most powerful job in the world, and he needs the full treatment,” she added, pointing to his positions on foreign policy and Social Security and his long mayoral record…
“We have seen rich people run before, but the amount of money Bloomberg is able to throw around is able to get him over the absence of enthusiasm because it’s orders of magnitude” greater, said Neil Sroka of the progressive group Democracy for America.
Of course there’s a similar dynamic at work when it comes to Bloomberg throwing money towards gun control efforts and candidates who back his agenda, but I haven’t heard Sroka or anyone else on the Left complain about his attempts to buy elections and influence until now.
What are progressives prepared to do about it? Will they vow to oppose candidates who take Bloomberg’s money? Will they organize grassroots efforts to defeat his candidacy and those who support him? At the very least, will they belatedly acknowledge that, since they have issues with Bloomberg trying to buy the presidency, they should have also spoken up when he was spending millions to turn the rights of Americans into privileges?
The fact that the progressive movement is only now objecting to Bloomberg’s longstanding methods shouldn’t surprise anyone. Unfortunately, politics is all too often transactional in nature, and as long as the Left was getting what they wanted (gun control), they were fine with Bloomberg spending tens of millions of dollars to get his way. In fact, they even told themselves that Bloomberg was just providing a much-needed counter to the spending of “the gun lobby.” As it turns out, many of those who complained about “big money in politics” really had an issue with “money being spent for causes I don’t support.”
Gun owners tried to warn them. We tried to tell Virginia voters, for instance, not to let an out-of-state billionaire dictate their laws, but not enough of them listened. Maybe we didn’t try hard enough, or maybe they couldn’t hear us over the sounds of the incessant commercials on our televisions bought and paid for by his gun control groups.
For years many on the Left have stood idly by or stuck out greedy hands to eagerly ask for Bloomberg Bucks, and now they’re reaping the bitter harvest that they’ve sown. Yes, Bloomberg believes he can spend his way to the White House, just as he believes he can spend his way to the annihilation of our Second Amendment.
Monica Klein, a progressive consultant in New York who is unaffiliated with a presidential campaign, cautioned against the focus on the novelty of his campaign.
“As mayor, Mike Bloomberg spent years keeping Republicans in power in New York — yet most voters just know him as this bizarre billionaire who gives out iPhones like candy,” she said, in response to a story last week about his lavish campaign spending.
Klein thinks it’s time to engage before it’s too late.
“Last election, voters and pundits alike treated Trump with kid gloves because he was seen as an unelectable amusement,” she said. “There’s a word for people who keep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
The problem with Bloomberg isn’t that he’s a billionaire. It’s that he’s a billionaire who wants to control almost every aspect of our lives and eradicate many of our most fundamental individual liberties. Klein’s right for saying its time to engage Bloomberg, but the fact that he’s trying to buy the presidential election is far less important than what he’d do if he actually wins. Folks who are focused on the process need to be paying attention and pushing back against his policies instead.