On Nov. 21, billionaire politician Michael Bloomberg announced his candidacy for President of the United States as a moderate alternative to a Democratic swing to the left in an attempt to defeat current U.S. President Donald Trump in the 2020 election. Many have been quick to criticize the launch of his campaign, citing the undue influence billionaires have within politics to launch and self-fund campaigns without relying on average citizens’ support, as well as concerns that this wealth makes for politicians that are unaware of the struggles of the common man. How do you view Bloomberg’s campaign in the context of our current political and economic climate? Do you think he presents a new type of candidate that could beat Trump in 2020? 

Prof. Michael Strand (SOC)

The worry here is that Bloomberg represents but a different wing of the American wealth aristocracy that seeks to retain economic and political control against the reasonable threat posed by a Warren or Sanders presidency. Bloomberg can use all the “I can beat Trump” rhetoric he wants, his position in the political field is obvious. His mayoralty of NYC is not something the country wants replicated on a national scale unless they want to replicate conditions that preceded the French Revolution, with all the same “let them eat cake” condescending hubris. Even the possibility of a Bloomberg candidacy speaks volumes about the completely unmanageable coalition that makes up the Democratic Party and the failings of two-party democracy. If Bloomberg is the candidate, then the Democratic Party should disband and stop referencing its history, just as the Republican Party has effectively disbanded and become the party of Trump. 

Michael Strand is an assistant professor of Sociology specializing in social theory, the philosophy of social science and economic sociology.

Trevor Filseth ’20

Setting aside the issue of his personal wealth, Michael Bloomberg could be an excellent candidate. Unlike President Trump, Bloomberg was a highly successful businessman before entering politics. Also unlike President Trump, Bloomberg has proven executive experience; he spent twelve years as mayor of America’s largest city as a Democrat, a Republican and an independent, and he ended his time there with relatively high approval ratings. I think Bloomberg’s nomination would be fatal to Trump. The president is counting on the 2020 election becoming a three-ring circus, a la 2016; he’s hoping to oppose someone that he can label a socialist to whip up his base and scare center-right voters into supporting him. This isn’t really possible with Bloomberg, whose policies as mayor were results-oriented rather than ideological. A Bloomberg presidency could be an effective antidote to Trumpism, and it might help bring the country together again in 2021.

Trevor Filseth ’19 is a History major and an opinion columnist for the Justice.

Judah Weinerman ’20

Bloomberg’s campaign is a doomed vanity effort from a man who hasn’t been told “no, this isn’t for you” for nearly three decades. In an era where the Democratic Party is at its most hostile to business interests and its youth core is increasingly left-wing, a billionaire plutocrat and friend to Wall Street is hardly the party’s natural nominee. As for electability, when panicky Democrats talk about the imaginary white man in Iowa who voted for Obama then switched support to Trump, do they really think the nanny-state wielding, soda-taxing, stop-and-frisking, gun-confiscating Bloomberg is really a good sell to small-c conservatives worried about state overreach? I’ll give Bloomberg this: for crossover appeal to Republicans who make a habit of voting for the biggest racist on the ballot, his highly suspect relationship with New York’s black and Hispanic communities while Mayor has a lot to offer to the Tucker Carlsons and Ann Coulters of the world.

Judah Weinerman is an Associate editor for the Justice majoring in History and Sociology.

Vandita Malviya Wilson 

The problem with Bloomberg’s campaign is that it reeks of “I’m a GOOD billionaire, while that other guy is a BAD billionaire.” This is a politician who decided to enter “public service” after amassing his fortune, which is fine, but like somebody else who’s more famous for doing the same thing, it sounds suspiciously like he was able to buy his way into office, in the most expensive city in the United States. Plus, Bloomberg thinks he knows how to run my life. Now, there’s no reason that anybody who is super rich should be prevented from spending their money to run for office, but by no means should it be the sole reason they can get elected either. The tragedy of a lost election of a billionaire Democrat is second only to the tragedy of Bloomberg eventually losing to Trump and his blue collar fan base.

Vandita Malviya Wilson is an MBA candidate at IBS and is a staff writer for the Justice.