Last Night’s Debate…. and What’s Next
Bloomberg took the stage last night for the first time in Nevada… and until midway through had a terrible night. He seemed to forget the debate is not a thoughtful policy and qualifications discussion, but a series of zingers and soundbites to be propagated by the press — and he is paying a huge price in this news cycle. But despite the fumble, the facts haven’t fundamentally changed and Mike is still this country’s best choice for President in 2020.
The story arc remains the same — our country is at a critical juncture. The next presidency is important to set the country’s direction. Sanders has solid support from about a quarter of the party, and deep disdain from another large fraction. Warren has positioned herself as the progressive that, unlike Sanders, has coherent plans (this point is true compared to Sanders who in 40 years has yet to come up with a detailed proposal for his healthcare, immigration or education plans) and believes in regulated capitalism (this was true until last night, when her class warfare worldview was in full form — if a billionaire who played by the rules, created a successful company generating thousands of high-paying jobs in the US and paying taxes, proceeded to serve in public office very successfully, and donated billions since then for the most important causes of our time in an effective way and to benefit the 99% doesn’t qualify as a good example of the American Dream, who does?). And the moderates are all vying for the votes that are needed in the aggregate to pick a winning candidate.
I am an immigrant. I came here because it’s the land of opportunity, a country with a stable democracy, and a safe place for all kinds of people. I am not prepared to stand by while the choices presented to me lead to a government that will break down any of these basic tenets.
Mike Bloomberg has the longest and most impressive track record of all the candidates. Proven success in the private sector, proven executive leadership in a significant public service role over a decade, and extraordinary philanthropy benefiting the causes that most matter to all of us. Those using short clips of his past mistakes to distract voters from a lengthy and impressive business and public service track record are being petty and disingenuous and trying to fool voters portraying Michael Bloomberg as someone he is not (It’s as if an adoption agency evaluated my track record as a parent based on a 2-minute video of clips of my worst moments as a mother taken completely out of context). He has owned his mistakes and learned from them. End of story. Criticism of his philanthropy as a way to buy support is outrageous — politicians gain support when they say they will fight for the issues you care about — Warren tells the unions she will fight for them and gets their endorsement, Bernie promises young people free college (neither are more than promises at this point, of course). Bloomberg actually has an extraordinarily lengthy track record not of promises, but of effectively fighting and financing the issues of our time that he believes in — climate change, education for the less affluent, gun safety, and this is turned against him because it’s easy in the soundbite era to do so. We want the richest people to give back — Bloomberg has given back more than anyone could reasonably expect both in time and money, and with amazing results. For what it's worth, I am a big proponent of radical campaign finance reform and wish zero private money was allowed in politics — but until that day comes, the self-financed approach is actually closer to utopian democracy than the peddling for support either with populism or with a debt to special interests to be paid for later on.
At one end of the spectrum, if Sanders became the nominee, Democrats will likely lose the election. And if we by some fluke win, it will only cement a new reality in US politics that fringe candidates, far from the center, leveraging a rabid non-traditional base can take control of the party away from the moderate majority. Rather than some pipe dream of shifting the current center a bit more left, this will only serve to enshrine the gridlock, hatred and “two country” mentality that is likely to tear this country apart in just a few more cycles. Not to mention the likely loss of the House and worsening of the Senate if Midwest Democrats are forced to choose between supporting their constituents needs and a Sanders’ administration — this would truly have major near term implications on US policy.
A compelling centrist Democrat can — at the other end of the spectrum — begin to right the ship and bring back bipartisanship which, while not as exciting on Twitter and cable TV, is how governing and moving the country forward actually gets done.
The moderates need to quickly coalesce and ensure the plurality of votes they possess is not fragmented through the convention. It seems clear Biden needs to step aside — his support of a nominee that can succeed would secure his legacy as a wise statesman and be the right thing for the country. Buttigieg is compelling and I hope he is President one day, but he would benefit from supporting another candidate and getting more experience in a Democratic administration. Klobuchar also appears solid, but despite the recent uptick, may find it hard to find staying power with uneven performance to date. Bloomberg offers a proven, pragmatic approach to all the key issues of our time (one compelling example is his education plan). The self-financing of his campaign means (a) he will arrive to the White House beholden to no one, (b) Democrats can use all the funds they planned to disburse to support down-ballot candidates, and (c) he can take on Trump.
In recent days critics have said Bloomberg is buying support with his money. I am a volunteer who gets absolutely nothing (and perhaps loses some friends) by being so outspoken on this issue. But I am very grateful that this country welcomed me when my native country imploded, and I do not take lightly the obligation and privilege of casting a vote to help pick the next leader of the free world. I feel strongly that the path to get the US back on track, to ensure its continued leadership in the world, and to continue improving the lives for all of us goes through Mike Bloomberg.