Sorry, Progressives, Bloomberg’s Candidacy Is Good for America
As Bloomberg’s spending mounts, accusations by Senators Warren and Sanders that he is “buying” the election grow more hysterical. And they are wrong. Bloomberg’s campaign is good for America and good for democracy. Here’s why.
Like it or not, America embraces money in politics. We could prohibit lobbying, but we don’t, and there are more lobbyists in Washington than there are members of Congress. Anyone with money has influence, be it labor unions, pharmaceutical companies, the AMA, farmers, the American Bar Association, or the US Chamber of Commerce.
We could remove money from elections by publicly funding them as other countries do, but we choose not to. Running for office in America is first a financial challenge, and the inability to raise money often is the first cause of candidates failing to get out of Iowa or New Hampshire.
Money is everywhere. We award ambassadorships to large donors. Wealthy donors sleep in the Lincoln Bedroom. Former presidents make millions in speaking fees. The revolving door between industry, senior administration positions, and K Street is lucrative and turns rapidly.
While it is a tradition to protest this condition relentlessly, the fact is we do nothing. Somehow, we accept it. We may think we are better than this, but this is indeed who we are. Senators Warren and Sanders, as longstanding members of Congress, are part of this reality. Why then all the false outrage about Bloomberg’s money?
We should welcome as many voices as possible to the political process. I welcome the increase in choices that the Bloomberg candidacy brings. I am under no obligation to vote for him. The choice is mine. My vote is not for sale. The accusation that it is for sale is insulting to the intelligence of the American voter.
We should also welcome a voice in the political process that is truly independent and whose candidacy is not indebted to anyone. In an environment so entirely corrupted by money, why would we not welcome a voice that is not so corrupted?
Then of course there is the inherent bias against billionaires exhibited by the senators. Consider the statement made in the Wednesday debate by Senator Warren: “Democrats make a huge mistake if they substitute one arrogant billionaire for another.” Meanwhile, Sanders doubled down on his view that billionaires should not exist, and that great wealth is “immoral.”
Consider the childishness and simple absurdity of this argument. First, it is inherently prejudicial and bigoted. Billionaires are not a unified class with unified interests. Surveys show that they vote and line up politically roughly according to the same distribution as all Americans. Secondly, consider a world in which anyone successful enough to become a billionaire would be automatically excluded from participating in public policy—a world in which the talents of some of the most innovative, industrious, and risk-taking Americans are redlined. Good luck with that.
Last time I looked, government was hardly a hotbed of innovation. Without innovation we will be unable to address the increasingly pressing problems of our time. Perhaps the senators should recognize that everyone, even billionaires, has something to contribute and judge them based on their merits, rather than summarily dismiss them with the flourish of childish labels. Name calling and prejudice should be left on the playground and not be part of a presidential campaign.