by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley
If the United States is going to be run for the profit of Wall Street and the super-rich, why not dispense with all the groveling intermediaries? Let the plutocrats rule, directly. Multi-billionaire New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg personifies government “of the rich, by the rich and for the rich,” and hopes to take the model nationwide. (This is the guy who told Rupert Murdock that Barack Obama is the “most arrogant” man he ever met.)
Freedom Rider: President Bloomberg
by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley
“If the presidency can be purchased by a wealthy man, then democracy is lost.”
American politicians who want to run for president have to make their case before one group of people before voters have the opportunity to make any decisions. The people in question are wealthy individuals and highly placed corporate executives. This casting call among the elite takes place before anyone attends a caucus in Iowa or casts a ballot in New Hampshire. No love from the rich folks, no White House residency.
Now there is one man who may be asking himself, “Why not cut out the middle man?” Who needs ambitious senators and governors making their case to the high and mighty when one of the highest and mightiest might be able to take the top job for himself.
Michael Bloomberg is a billionaire and the mayor of New York City. In 2008 he reportedly contemplated running for president but ultimately decided to make another run for mayor in 2009. He was re-elected by a slim margin in part because Barack Obama made a late and extremely tepid endorsement of Bloomberg’s Democratic opponent. Obama wouldn’t be president if he didn’t know how the game is played. Making a rich guy angry is definitely against the rules.
His deed may yet be punished because Bloomberg just might make good on his plans for presidential ambitions in 2012. Bloomberg certainly isn’t grateful for the dive Obama took against his own party’s candidate in the 2009 mayoral race and he hasn’t been quiet about his plans for regime change.
“Bloomberg just might make good on his plans for presidential ambitions in 2012.”
Bloomberg indiscreetly blabbed his dissatisfaction to fellow billionaire buddy Rupert Murdoch, CEO of the News Corporation, home of Fox news and other right wing media outlets. The equally chatty Murdoch repeated Bloomberg’s assessment that the president is the “most arrogant” man he had ever met. The mayor did not deny having made the statement, only vaguely claiming that he didn’t remember the conversation the same way.
Mike Bloomberg is traveling all over the country and the world, taking issue with Obama’s timid criticisms of his wealthy campaign benefactors. Bloomberg complains that Wall Street feels “vilified” by the federal government in the Obama era. He finds Obama “inexperienced at running things” and “too willing to make compromises.“
The prospect of a president whose only qualification is the ability to amass great wealth would mean that America has become a full fledged plutocracy, with no pretense of representative democracy. Government will be of the rich, by the rich and for the rich.
Bloomberg has his own wealth to use as a bottomless pit of campaign funding. His last mayoral election cost him $70 million and with an estimated net worth of $20 billion, money would literally be no object. Bloomberg will also face an electorate which is disgusted by both parties and overly enamored of wealthy people. Uninformed Americans want rich politicians who won’t be “beholden” to other interests, unaware that the people’s interests are more likely to be addressed if politicians have an obligation to some constituency. If not they can act without any checks and balances, and that would be an absolute disaster for what is left of our democratic system.
“With an estimated net worth of $20 billion, money would literally be no object.”
A Bloomberg challenge to Obama would be a true test of the “lesser of two evils” dynamic which Americans are most often faced with when they vote. Elected officials, no matter how indebted to the Bloombergs of the country, offer at least a hope of democracy, a chance for citizens to participate in the political process. If the presidency can be purchased by a wealthy man, then democracy is lost. There will be no opportunity for redress of grievances or mass political movements to make a difference.
It isn’t clear if Bloomberg could win outright or be just another Ross Perot, and act as a spoiler depriving one of the two major party candidates of election victory. If Obama and the Democrats actually worked for the benefit of working people, money wouldn’t be enough to defeat them. But the Democrats have bailed out Wall Street, escalated wars and watched as millions lose their jobs and their homes. Now they bring the year to a close with a deficit reduction commission, dubbed the “cat food” commission, which has presented proposals that will destroy the small safety net which exists in this country.
In the absence of a Democratic Party that works for the public’s interest, it wouldn’t be surprising if voters looked to a rich man to solve their problems. The two major parties differ only in the details, but are locked in a pitched battle to continue enriching individuals and corporations. Democratic voters who stayed home on election day were given precious little reason to be engaged. That level of disengagement could propel an independent New York City mayor or a Republican to the White House. If there is a Bloomberg candidacy and if it damages Obama and the Democrats, they have only themselves to blame.
Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgandaReport.com.