Nominating Bloomberg would be the Democratic Party welcoming Caesar across the Rubicon. The final Capitulation to Reagan Republicanism.
The Democrats now kissing his ring are being recruited to his mercenary army. They are making the calculation, he’s given us money in the past, and we feel beholden. He might give us money in the future, and we want to stay on his good side.
Reagan’s policies have already been carried to near their logical end. The vulnerable can’t rely on government services, their leaders can’t deliver services without the largess of the 1%. Their leaders have two choices. Kneel individually, kiss the ring, and receive the services guaranteed by his $60 billion – maybe soon to be $60 billion and the presidency – or stand together in solidarity and say no. Then fight to make the government work for we the people.
Kissing his ring is capitulating to wealthism. Wealthism is the belief that wealth entitles the wealthy to more power over individuals and communities than other people. This has been the defining feature of Republicanism at least since Reagan. When they kiss his ring, they acknowledge they are subject to his wealthist demands. They’re kissing his ring to access his wealth. It’s a transaction – money for power. Every time they take his money, the price is power. Favors. Doing things because the $60 billion said to do it, not because they made a free choice. Whether it’s a kind word (Barack Obama), a photo-op (Stacy Abrams), or an endorsement (Haley Stevens, among many, many others), the only reason he gets their attention at all isn’t his morals or merit – it’s his bank account.
Put a lot of cops in the street, put those cops where the crime is, which means in minority neighborhoods. So this is one of the unintended consequences is people saying, ‘Oh my God, you are arresting kids for marijuana, they’re all minorities.’ Yes, that’s true. Why? Because we put all the cops in the minority neighborhoods. Yes that’s true. Why do we do it? Because that’s where all the crime is.– Michael Bloomberg
They rationalize it of course. These leaders aren’t bad people. They’re trapped between a system that won’t provide for their constituencies without great struggle, and $60 billion that can provide at least some services – if they kneel to the ring. There are many, many barriers to getting “our” government to work for we the people, it was designed that way. There’s only one barrier to getting those services funded by that bank account – Bloomberg’s good graces.
This is the logical end of Reagan Republicanism – the vulnerable made more and more dependent on the largess of the wealthy. In the final stage, the 1% fund public services through philanthropy, and control them directly. What they don’t own directly, they control by owning (bribing) the government. The price of services to you or your community is your personal support, or at least silent acquiescence – your obedience to the hand that feeds you. The government only exists to enforce laws on the 99%, and contracts between the oligarchs. This is how monarchy works. The monarch controls cash and government services, and doles them out in exchange for loyalty – meaning the power to make his subjects obey. Power is the ability to get people to do things they wouldn’t do otherwise. Wealthists and their lickspittles dress it up in fancier clothes, but that’s Reagan Republicanism carried to its logical end.
Bloomberg has implemented and overseen more damage to black and brown people than David Duke, affecting literally millions of blacks, Latinos, and other minorities. With government-sanctioned force. He’s said things, repeatedly, recently, that a Duke or any other outright racist could easily have said. He’s said things about women that a Trump or any other outright misogynist could easily have said. He’s said things about the 99% that a Shkreli or any other outright wealthist could easily have said.
Some people say, well, taxes are regressive. But in this case, yes they are. That’s the good thing about them because the problem is in people that don’t have a lot of money. And so, higher taxes should have a bigger impact on their behavior and how they deal with themselves.– Michael Bloomberg
If Bloomberg didn’t have $60 billion, the Democrats kissing his ring wouldn’t give him the time of day. Stacy Abrams wouldn’t meet with him if he didn’t dole out the big dollars. Nothing against Abrams, I’m just stating facts. If Bloomberg wasn’t making big donations to her campaign and her voting rights non-profit, she wouldn’t even know his name. The same goes for the many Democrats now kissing his ring with endorsements, including Haley Stevens (MI-11) here in Michigan. Bloomberg has been doling out money like that to politicians at every level for 23 years or more.
The New York Times reports Bloomberg increased his “charitable” giving from about $750 million in 2018 to $3.3 billion in 2019 – a 440% increase, just as he’s running for president. He’s upping his holdings in the patronage network. That’s a broad signal to everyone that he’s trying to buy the election, and legitimacy for his policies – or where that’s not possible at least silence dissent.
It may have started as philanthropy back before he was mayor of New York City, but now he’s using it as a patronage network. The spike in spending just as he’s running for president means he’s explicitly using it as a patronage network to win the Democratic nomination and the presidency. He knows precisely what he is doing, he’s calculated how much it’s likely to cost him, and he’s a good businessman – he’s going to spend as much as he needs to, but not more. He doesn’t see a percentage in penny-pinching the presidency as Trump did. He’s either going to win or lose and he won’t get another shot at it, so you have to be all in or not bother. He could easily put ten times more money into the race. Imagine how many times a day you’d be seeing his ads. His campaign isn’t constrained by his budget, his budget is constrained by the capacity of the electorate to absorb his message without turning too many people off. If he buys too much airtime, people will tune out his message, and many will be turned off by the oversaturation.
Trump doesn’t have the cash to build an effective patronage network or buy that much air time. He’s spent money on politicians, donations to their campaigns, but hasn’t spent 23 years taking up small bits of the slack, all over the country, where government services have been cut back by Republicans and Democrats alike. Bloomberg has an effective patronage network because he’s made that $9.5 billion dollar investment since 1997. More than a third of it just last year.
This is literally how Caesar controlled Rome after crossing the Rubicon – a strong patronage network together with the power of his official position to direct government contracts, services, and martial force. This is exactly how Bloomberg brought himself “success” as mayor of NYC. He just bought everyone off:
When church groups or community organizations threatened to get noisy in opposition to him or his programs, he wrote checks that tended to quiet them down. (Top Democrats were known to tease black ministers who got only $25,000 for their churches, when peers who’d held out longer received $50,000—the deal was that these ministers didn’t have to support him, but if they wanted the checks to keep coming, they needed to stay neutral.) His company, Bloomberg LP, made many corporate contributions that lined up with his political interests. The money kept coming and coming and coming and coming. It broke logjams, and overcame institutional resistance. His money allowed him to drown out the opposition—and often made potential rivals hold their tongue. The timely and balanced budgets Bloomberg touted each year in PowerPoint presentations were enabled in part by spending cuts to groups that were then made whole again by the most transparent of anonymous donations. (Emphasis added)– Edward-Isaac Dovere, writing in The Atlantic.
His patronage network got behind his political ambitions because they were getting cash and services from him directly and indirectly, and needed to continue in his good graces. Once his political power was secured, his patronage network were the beneficiaries and worked to maintain and grow his political power – something they never would have done without the lure of his cash patronage. His patronage network even overturned term limits to grant him a third term. It’s good to be the king. Caesar got himself declared dictator for life using exactly the same tactics.
The Democratic Party began to die as the Party of working-class and poor people in 1947, when 20 of the 42 Democrats then in the Senate and 106 of the 177 Democrats then in the House joined Republicans to override Democratic President Harry Trueman’s veto of the Taft-Hartley Act. The federal law that made “right to work” (for less) laws legal.
Clearly, over the last several elections, there has not been a more important donor to the Democratic Party than Michael Bloomberg.– Terry McAuliffe, Democratic Governor of Virginia, former DNC chair.
Nominating Bloomberg would be the bookend to that betrayal. The betrayal of democracy to plutocracy, the betrayal of the 99% to the 1%. The final surrender of the Democratic Party to the wealthist oligarchy.
Trump is an incompetent wealthist who runs things like a caricature of a mob boss from the 20s, demanding personal loyalty even to the point of public humiliation and self-destruction. Bloomberg is a competent plutocrat. He doesn’t care what anyone thinks of him or how personally loyal they are, so long as they’re loyal to his money and power – so long as he can pay them off to keep their mouths shut, or buy them off to speak in his favor. Trump doesn’t have the cash, intellect, or emotional capacity to run an effective plutocracy, only an evermore decaying one. Bloomberg knows how to suppress dissent quietly, pay off the right people and organizations, and run an effective plutocratic oligarchy in the modern world. He’s already taken a successful test run as mayor of New York City – proof of concept.
Trump will wreak havoc on our people and institutions if elected to another term. Bloomberg will grow his patronage network into the fabric of our institutions, corrupting our leaders as they struggle to serve our communities. Transform our leaders and institutions into servants of the 1% to a deeper and broader degree than they already are. It will take years to triage and heal the destruction Trump has already done with his ham-handed blundering about. His administration couldn’t even write enforceable executive orders when they arrived. They’ve shrunk since – because Trump is an incompetent manager.
Bloomberg is a smart, highly competent, experienced, and seasoned manager. He has 12 years of experience running a city with the population of a small country. His staff has that experience and more under their belts, and he really will hire the best, brightest, and most talented wealthists available. Bloomberg and his team will weave their wealthist technocracy into the fabric of our institutions so deeply, it will take a century or more of struggle to unwind the tangle – or a revolution, and not just a political one.
We cannot allow our country to be run by a mob boss from the 20s.
We can’t allow our country to be run by a plutocrat from the technocracy either.
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We win this fight together, or not at all.