Elizabeth Warren is Right about Mike Bloomberg

Michael O’Connell, Editorial Editor

Elizabeth Warren was asked during the most recent Democratic primary debate in South Carolina to explain why she characterized Mike Bloomberg as the “riskiest” option for Democrats in 2020.  Six days earlier, Warren skewered Bloomberg on allegations of sexual misconduct–and his likeness to another New York billionaire. Warren explained that Bloomberg’s record as a major donor to Republican campaigns (including to her 2012 Senate opponent, Scott Brown), means the core of the Democrat party will never trust him.  Warren argues that Bloomberg’s character and politics are disqualifying—and she is 100% correct. This article is not an endorsement for Elizabeth Warren’s nomination. Rather, it is a cautionary tale about the confluence of the #MeToo era and centrist politics.

In his career as Wall Street’s multi-billion-dollar middle man, Mike Bloomberg was accused of sexual misconduct and discrimination in nearly 40 lawsuits.  Warren has held Bloomberg’s feet to the fire, demanding he accounts for reportedly calling women “fat broads” and “horse-faced lesbians,” or telling a female employee to “kill it,” after she informed him of her pregnancy.  Warren described how a “drip, drip, drip” of accusations against Bloomberg in the general election would be crippling for Democrats. Warren speaks of risk, and with respect to Mike Bloomberg’s ability to run against an incumbent President with a past (Bloomberg’s) so ripe for criticism—however hypocritical it may be for the President to attack Bloomberg on his record with women—the risk is incontrovertible.  

Democrats care about holding predatory men accountable; in choosing to elect Donald Trump in 2016, Republicans communicated quite clearly where they stand.  If Democrats want to remain virtuous, and still be victorious in 2020, Mike Bloomberg isn’t the option. The danger is obvious; should more women come forward with claims of sexual misconduct against Mike Bloomberg—verifiable or otherwise—his campaign will be forced to respond to tough questions from Democrats, and the Trump campaign.  The primary process is meant to vet candidates so as to stop these types of distractions from upsetting the Democrats’ general election success. Victory lies for Democrats in places like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida; the standards which Democrats expect the public to judge them by means for impressionable voters in these states, accusations of sexual misconduct against Donald Trump are excusable, whereas a similar accusation made against a Democrat is a politically fatal indictment of hypocrisy.  Should Mike Bloomberg become the nominee for Democrats, an ensuing “drip, drip, drip,” would either force Democrat’s to abandon the moral advantage Donald Trump provided them, or concede defeat. These two nightmarish 2020 conclusions are entirely preventable and hinge on the party dropping someone who should never have been picked up.

If Mike Bloomberg’s record is not reason enough for Democrats to desert him, his politics should be.  Bloomberg is banking on his appeal to more than the leftmost factions of the Democrat party and is certain to use his recent convert status to convince voters on both sides.  Democrats are being forced to decide whether the kindly centrist message of a return to normalcy or the profoundly popular message of Bernie Sanders will be what defeats Donald Trump.  Most have already identified the way Donald Trump will likely attack Sanders, that is invoking red scare sentiments, and branding Sanders with a red hot hammer and sickle. But how might Trump attack such a “reasonable” candidate like Mike Bloomberg?  

The groundwork for Trump’s centrist attack plan was laid out during his recent State of the Union address.  On Healthcare—the issue voters are consistently most concerned with—the President said, “Before I took office, health insurance premiums had more than doubled in just 5 years. I moved quickly to provide affordable alternatives. Our new plans are up to 60 percent less expensive. I have also made an ironclad pledge to American families: We will always protect patients with pre-existing conditions — that is a guarantee. And we will always protect your Medicare and your Social Security.”  On climate—an issue President Trump has been reluctant to consider progressively—he said, “To protect the environment, days ago, I announced that the United States will join the One Trillion Trees Initiative, an ambitious effort to bring together Government and the private sector to plant new trees in America and around the world.” As good as these sound bites were for the next mornings Fox and Friends broadcast, they also show how the President plans to fight off a centrist Democrat. A centrist like Bloomberg and Trump would be fighting for the same votes in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania. 

Democrats like to tell voters their party is the guardian of social welfare programs, and the only one focused on issues like the climate. The fervent dedication of the President’s core base has uniquely allowed him to take up new moderate positions, doing so only stands to provide for the president the crucial support of undecided centrists. Trump is making it harder for voters to distinguish between himself, and someone like Bloomberg; both would seem to care about social welfare programs and the environment. Paired with his rally speeches’ greatest hits: a strong economy, the immigration crackdown, and the incapacitation of ISIS, Trump offers a compelling message to centrists, that would be next to impossible for an embattled Mike Bloomberg to respond to.

Struggling in the polls allowed Elizabeth Warren to ask something we should all be wondering: Why would we want to substitute one arrogant billionaire for another?