Bankole: Bloomberg's Trumpian behavior hard to swallow
Michael Bloomberg is running as the anti-Donald Trump. The former New York mayor and billionaire is promising to undo all of the untenable policies that President Trump has implemented since occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. With incessant television commercials and Facebook ads, Bloomberg is positioning himself as the one who can defeat Trump in November.
All of that may be true. Bloomberg could be the Democrat’s best shot to prevent another four years of Trump. He has the resources to launch a full scale onslaught on Trump in the general election, in a way that no other current candidate in the Democratic field can do.
I'd say he's the one Trump is most worried about. Money is king to Trump, and Bloomberg has enough of it to fund a campaign capable of staging an upset in November.
But Bloomberg's record stinks. He's not a direct replica of Trump, but when he was mayor of New York, he had a penchant for policies that targeted black and brown people for surveillance and extra scrutiny that amounted to no less than a police state.
That's hard to stomach.
Among the most glaring of the former mayor's Draconian policies was “stop-and-frisk,” an invasive and notorious policy carried out by members of the NYPD, who deemed every black and brown man as a suspect.
The unconstitutional and racist policing, which Bloomberg vigorously and dangerously defended long before his run for the presidency, treated people of color like criminals.
Also, his surveillance of the Muslim community in New York is reminiscent of Trump’s anti-Muslim campaign.
Bloomberg has not apologized enough to black people for the vigilante policing he presided over as the three-term mayor of New York City. Offering half-baked apologies in friendly black churches or posing for photos with prominent black leaders will not mitigate the anger about the stop-and-frisk program that is permeating across the spectrum of the black world.
If he is deeply remorseful about his actions in the past, Bloomberg will need to travel to the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia and offer a more thoughtful and serious speech to the nation, denouncing “stop-and-frisk” policing and other forms of police brutality across the board.
Also his alleged documented vulgar and sexist comments about women over the years are no different than Trump's "locker-room" talk. As the 2016 election showed, however, that wasn’t much of a sticking issue for Trump’s bid for the presidency as 52% of white women voted for him over his rival Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Despite the fault lines in his political biography, Bloomberg is counting on his past generosity and alliances to pay off for his campaign. An extensive treatment of his funding and support of Democratic-leaning groups and some prominent individuals in a recent New York Times article explain how he has been able to build a vast network of influence across the nation.
Among those who have received millions of dollars from the billionaire is the Sierra Club and Planned Parenthood as well as House Democrats in the 2018 mid-term elections.
And Stacey Abrams, the Democratic firebrand and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate, received $5 million for Fair Fight 2020, a voter rights initiative.
Bloomberg's billions are hard to resist. But it will take more than that to win an election.
His policies and integrity also matter. Bloomberg needs to show how his worldview has evolved since he was mayor of New York. What many black people see when they look at him is another rich white man who represents American patriarchy.
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