Budowsky: Citizen Bloomberg, the great equalizer
One month from today, as the dust settles from the mega-voting on Super Tuesday, Democrats will face either a prohibitive favorite for the presidential nomination or a high prospect for a brokered convention that will choose a nominee after more than one ballot.
While several candidates can claim some form of victory in the ill-fated Iowa caucus, one of the big winners of the caucus was a candidate who never entered it: former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Whether as a potential Democratic nominee or a public-spirited private citizen supporting other Democrats in the historic elections in 2020, Bloomberg could play a profound and powerful role in the future of American democracy.
As Super Tuesday fast approaches, Bloomberg, one of several candidates I am seriously considering supporting for the nomination, will and should receive increasingly intense focus about the kind of candidate and president he would be.
Taking the most optimistic view of the kind of president Bloomberg could be, which is realistically plausible, let’s remember that two families that have stood at the forefront of historically progressive presidents with powerfully progressive legacies that live on today, the Roosevelts and the Kennedys, were exceptionally wealthy.
Bloomberg has the potential to campaign as the great equalizer in American politics, American society and the American economy. He could champion this cause in major speeches and fireside chats. He could implement a mini-version of a New Deal by going all out to help Democrats regain control of the Senate and maintain control of the House and enact measures such as his $5 trillion tax plan to close corporate loopholes, raise taxes on the wealthy, and fund increases in programs to improve education, combat climate change and create high wage jobs rebuilding America.
Bloomberg could campaign as the great equalizer advocating higher wages for all workers, increased support for the poor, a Medicare or a Medicare-like plan available to EVERY American who wants it, increased voting rights for minorities, a new era of full equality for women, and protecting young people from being murdered by military weapons in the classroom or having their lives shortened by the curse of climate change.
To some degree, Bloomberg’s fate on Super Tuesday will be affected by the fate of former Vice President Joe Biden in upcoming contests in New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. Looking at the RealClearPolitics summary of polling of match-ups between potential Democratic nominees and President Trump, Biden so far is clearly the strongest potential nominee against Trump and, it should be emphasized because of the importance of this data, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg may be the weakest Democrat in match-up polling against Trump.
As primaries unfold and Super Tuesday approaches, voters will compare the relative records of Buttigieg and Bloomberg.
Buttigieg has immense political skills and a potential presidential future at some point but so far, zero presidential-caliber high-level experience in government or business. He lost his major statewide race for treasurer of Indiana by a landslide in 2010. Bloomberg by contrast was brilliantly successful as founder, CEO and leader in national and international business and served as a widely respected and repeatedly reelected mayor of one of the greatest cities on earth.
Similarly Trump fears a debate with Bloomberg, whose success in business towers above his and whose vision and style of leadership in business and government lifts people up and brings people together.
Four weeks ago in a column here I proposed that Bloomberg donate $1 billion to elect Democrats in November. I profoundly appreciate and applaud the fact that he later promised to take a very similar action regardless of which Democrat is nominated, which thrilled Democrats and created great consternation among Trump and his GOP supporters, as it should.
As nominee or private citizen, Bloomberg has the potential to give powerful and decisive support to lift the political success of countless Democrats, and the economic lives of all Americans, as the great equalizer in American public life.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was chief deputy majority whip of the House of Representatives. He holds an LLM in international financial law from the London School of Economics.