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The Masses vs. Michael Bloomberg’s Monorail

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By Ian Firstenberg 

In a rare moment of political honesty, Michael Bloomberg’s book reveals how deeply full of shit he really is. 

Michael Bloomberg’s thinks we are big dumb suckers. For him, we are whiney hogs who must be kept at bay and firmly scolded into submission; not listened to and certainly not compromised with. Bloomberg views Democratic primary voters how Lyle Laney views the people of Springfield in the delightful “Marge vs. the Monorail” episode of the Simpsons. We are rubes, marks and simpletons and, to him, we must be kept in line.

Nothing makes this more evident than Bloomberg’s general campaign strategy and specifically, his climate policy. 

Despite campaign ads blanketing every CBS, NBC and ABC local affiliate for almost two months now, Mayor Michael Bloomberg platform remains murky if not intentionally vague. In some early TV ads he appeared to be championing the support of strong gun legislation and climate change as his key issues (he also had bland imagery in reference to what looks like 9/11, although he was not actually mayor at that point).

His early ad spending dwarves the even massive totals from fellow, slightly taller, billionaire Tom Steyer. Bloomberg’s broad strategy has been to skip the first four primaries and caucuses (unprecedented), blanket the bigger, more delegate heavy states with ads and hope for the in-fighting to kneecap more progressive candidates so he remains in tact as the establishment option. 

Michael Bloomberg cartoon illustration courtesy of DonkeyHotey/Flickr.

Ideologically, he’s postured along the progressive line of the Democrats with his stance on climate change and gun control but in his political history, both in New York and nationally, he falls on the right. Keen political observers will remember the 2004 RNC held in New York in which Bloomberg endorsed President Frat Boy War Criminal and had NYPD and other officers beat, arrest and fingerprint protesters. Others may remember Bloomberg’s overt hostility and condemnation of the Occupy Movement in 2011, eventually sending in officers to forcefully remove protesters while blocking and dismissing press. He was a registered Republican more recently than other presidential hopeful — Elizabeth Warren switched parties in 1996

Bloomberg, much like Klobachur, represents the centrist wing of the Democractic Party; where saying no to the whiney voters begging for universal healthcare and a livable minimum wage is virtuous and not a clear disqualifier. It is his firm unflinching realism, some might say pragmatism, that has drawn in the would-be Biden or possibly Mayor Pete supporters (mayor on mayor violence is a threat to American politics and must be stopped!). 

According to Open Secrets, Bloomberg LP which is the media and financial conglomerate owned founded and run by the presidential candidate, donated over $20,000 to Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Dan Donovan (R-NY). 

Heitkamp and McCaskill could both be identified as Blue Dog Democrats, a denomination more conservative than other Democrats and loyal to the center wing of the party. Blue dogs tend to emerge and thrive in purple states. 

Heitkamp has a poor climate record despite describing herself as an “independent voice.” She also broke with the party and voted to confirm former EPA director Scott Pruitt in 2017. Pruitt infamously used EPA money to fly his wife around on a private jet. Heitkamp also scores 50 percent approval rating by the League of Conservation Voters. 

McCaskill has the appearance of a much cleaner climate record but did receive over $200,000 in donations after breaking party ranks and voting for the “Crapo” bill — a banking deregulation bill brought before Congress in 2018. She supports the Keystone XL pipeline and Southern Tar Sands expansion while maintaining she is a climate change supporter. 

Donovan was a standard run of the mill Republican, his 2018 campaign received donations from Blackstone, Hj Kalikow and Votesane, which is one of the largest Republican super PACs. 

What Bloomberg says he is ‘for’ seems to be a bit off from what his company puts his money towards. While there is an argument that there’s a separation between his company’s finances and his own, but that claim is flimsy. 

In an op-ed published in March of last year — published in his own publication — Bloomberg wrote:

I’ve run for office three times and won each time, in no small part because I’ve never stuck my finger in the wind to decide what I should believe. It’s not who I am, nor do I think it’s what voters want in a leader.”

In that same op-ed Bloomberg writes glowingly about his Beyond Coal initiative, keying it as the big reason for the country’s 11 percent reduction of its carbon footprint– along with cutting coal power plant deaths by 10,000 people. To be sure, less coal burning is a good thing and less people dying because of coal burning pollution, is also really good. But for a former NYC mayor well-known for his, shall we say, distaste for the less metropolitan voters, who categorized the Green New Deal as a step too far, this initiative comes off rather smug and ineffectual. As opposed to a more comprehensive plan like the Green New Deal, Beyond Coal focuses on a small portion of the problems latent in climate change.

But more specifically, how does a billionaire metropolitan former mayor come off as relatable to working class voters who work at coal plants or in any other blue collar industrial field? 

All these points notwithstanding, his initiative while minutely helpful, sucks overall. It does not nearly go far enough to remediate the structural issues of climate change in our country like large fossil fuel industry lobbyists offering giant brown sacks with dollar signs for Lindsey Graham to come out and support the #blowupthesun movement.

In his 2017 book, co-written with Carl Pope, Bloomberg describes himself as, “not your stereotypical environmentalist…I don’t want to ban fracking (just do it safely) or stop the Keystone pipeline (the oil is coming here one way or another), and I support nuclear power.” 

If nothing else, his transparency is respectful. He’s a capitalist to his bones and because of the amalgamation of corporations and aesthetic ecological concern, he can market himself as an environmentalist. Whether or not he actually believes his own shtick is irrelevant because he’ll never let it be known one way or the other. 

Bloomberg drawa on his experience as mayor as a huge focal point of his attack on the ecological crisis. He talks about how cities are once again the hub of diversity and economic opportunity while accurately pointing out how they are large hubs of pollution usually with hefty carbon footprints. He is able to accurately describe the perils of tackling the climate crisis, but the would-be solutions he writes about in the middle of the chapter are categorically flawed. 

He said:

“Cities everywhere are increasingly demonstrating a phenomenon I often point out about New York: Talent attracts capital more effectively than capital attracts talent.” 

Michael Bloomberg. (David Berkowitz/Flickr)

This unveils what he believes is the solution to climate change specifically and all political issues generally: more capital. To Bloomberg, an unrequited and unapologetic capitalist, the answer to political problems is not wielding political power to regulate or disassemble structures of capitalism that have and continue to ravage the lives of millions of people, but to bring in more capital. 

This is the political equivalent of, ‘shit’ll buff out’ but for media billionaires instead of dudes with Oakleys and lifted trucks. The flaws in his logic are clear but the fallacy begs a question touched on earlier: Does he actually believe this shit, or is he just trying to keep his cash flow coming in?

As mentioned earlier, it’s hard to say and more importantly, it doesn’t really matter. His strategy for solutions entirely undermines any accurate identification or description he had. So when Michael Bloomberg talks about his solutions to climate change, it’s important to keep in mind what he means. His solutions to the crisis involve unending capital in hopes that more talent will follow, which would subsequently intensify gentrification and displacement. Super.

His strategy would immediately and drastically increase displacement of local residents, which, as we see in the Bay Area, does more to increase carbon emissions and footprints than tame them. As opposed to long-time residents, new residents often commute in or use private transportation to get to the gym two blocks away. 

Logical issues and face- value inaccuracies aside, his plan sucks shit. It offers no meaningful addressment of employment issues that come along with climate change, no labor protections for workers affected, no addressment of how to remedy the class issues tethered to climate change, no willingness to ban fracking — shown time and time again to be deeply harmful to ecosystems — no willingness to even mildly reign in massive fossil fuel or financial corporations that propagate the largest parts of our climate crisis.

It sucks, a lot. 

Make no mistake, in an age of billionaire philanthropists, the ones who tell you how much they care about the working man, are always the ones with the most at stake in opposition to workers. Bloomberg’s strategy has never been attempted to this degree — it is truly a campaign of and for the wealthy. Despite his atrocious record, his garbage policies and general unlikability with everyone under 40, he does pose a threat to the progressive wing because his piggy bank is, in terms of political spending, a bottomless pit. 

Candidates like Amy Klobachur or even Warren don’t have the capital to stay in the race if their numbers drop, but the mighty mini mayor doesn’t give a shit and has made it well known that he intends to stay in as long as he feels he needs.

A couple of things can and should be drawn from this: First, why does his plan suck so bad if he is campaigning on climate change? And secondly, if one of focal policy proposal sucks this much, what would that indicate about other aspects of his agenda? 

The first we can answer, the second will have to tackled in another piece. 

Michael Bloomberg is an incredibly wealthy man, colloquially he has what could be reffered to as ‘fuck you money.’ It’s the kind of money that makes you think about everything quite a bit differently. So much money that he could buy a Bugatti Veyron (price tag right around $1 million) everyday for the rest of the campaign and still have plenty to throw into Super Tuesday ads. With that kind of money, you spend a lot of time making sure you maintain, if not grow, that massive vault of gold doubloons — infinite growth, baby! 

His climate policy sucks because he doesn’t really give a shit about climate change. He could buy a dwarf star a galaxy over and go live there when the oceans swallow us. He and Elon Musk could set up that Elysium-style decadent space station for the rich.

Bloomberg could probably afford to solve homelessness in America, but he doesn’t, because he likes his money more than he likes the people. Remember that. 


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