We are two months into 2020, and it’s not an exaggeration to say that civilization itself hangs in the balance.
All around us, Trumpian forces of authoritarianism and corruption operate with impunity in our federal government, the international order continues to crack under its own weight and the climate crisis marches on unabated. As Democrats and independents search for someone to defeat Donald Trump and change our path, voters are turning to our very own Hopkins alum: Mike Bloomberg himself.
Bloomberg appeals to voters that are unsatisfied with the current field. However, his plutocratic approach to politics, horrifically racist policies as mayor of New York City and limited general election appeal make him an unacceptable choice for the Democratic nomination.
Whether you are a moderate or a progressive, the primary field offers candidates with better positions, more experience and less disdain for democratic processes.
Above all, Bloomberg disqualifies himself through his approach to politics. Since his time as mayor, Bloomberg has warped politics to his advantage by drowning opponents in his 60 billion dollar fortune.
While he reigned in New York City, outlets like the New York Times reported on Bloomberg donating hundreds of millions of dollars to local nonprofits to manipulate them into supporting his candidacy. He also instituted democracy-defying initiatives like abolishing the two-term mayoral limit for himself and then reinstituting it for all future mayors.
In this election, Bloomberg has received endorsements from many Democratic politicians. Strikingly, most of them were on the receiving end of substantial donations or Bloomberg grants to their cities or election campaigns.
Bloomberg often justifies his self-funded big-money approach by claiming it leaves him beholden to no special interests. But when a candidate is beholden to no one, that includes voters.
Candidates that only take — or at least rely on — small-money donations guarantee that they at least consider the opinions of everyday people. But Bloomberg, who has pledged not to accept money from any donors, only has to consider himself. His “bulldoze them with money” approach may have worked on the city level, but a man whose theory of political change is to open his wallet, is doomed to ignore important grassroots voices, fail to pass any real policies in Washington and likely lose the general election to Trump.
Beyond that, Bloomberg has shown his flawed instincts through his failed stop-and-frisk policy in New York City. While it may have reduced crime, testimony abounds of police brutality skyrocketing. Black teenagers were shoved against walls, physically assaulted and brutally abused for the “crime” of daring to walk the streets.
Bloomberg supported the prosecution of the falsely accused “Central Park Five” teenagers and frequently defended his stop-and-frisk policies right up until the election (claiming one could “xerox” the description of a black male for crimes and that young black men should be profiled even more). Even though Bloomberg has apologized, his past support shows deep ignorance of the racism that has plagued our country since its founding.
These flaws, to say nothing of his disturbing sexism, record of bankrolling Republicans, Wall Street advocacy and more, point to a man interested less in making the world a better place and more in seeing just how much influence unlimited spending can get him. Critics might claim that these complaints amount to nothing more than flunking Bloomberg on a “woke test,” but the fact is, the way Bloomberg governs and acts will have real, harmful effects.
Someone who has shown a record of enabling abuse of minorities should have no place governing an increasingly diverse country. Someone who bribes elected officials to support him cannot hope to eradicate the corruption that has turned Washington against the people that need it most.
Bloomberg’s philanthropy has had a real impact on important political causes and helped people in need, but being qualified to give money to others does not mean you are qualified to be president.
As Hopkins students, it is often taken as a given that we support Bloomberg. However, we have the unique leverage point of being students at the alma mater of a leading presidential candidate, and we must take that role seriously. Receiving financial aid from Bloomberg does not mean we have any duty to support him, and following that logic enables the mind-bending corruption and grift that we are fighting against.
I will vote for Bloomberg if he wins the nomination. But for the sake of our democracy, we cannot let that happen.
Our problems existed before Trump and will require more than another billionaire from NYC to fix them. If you agree, make sure that your voice as a Hopkins student is heard.
When relatives ask you if you support Bloomberg, let them know that going to this University does not make us blind to his disastrous record and oligarchic tendencies. When the Maryland primary rolls around on April 28, get involved with a different Democratic candidate. Together, we have to look past Bloomberg’s philanthropic record and ensure we pick a candidate who hasn’t shown their inability to lead the country.
Sam Mollin is a junior majoring in Political Science and Environmental Studies from Larchmont, N.Y. He is a Staff Writer for The News-Letter.