Billionaire vs. billionaire: The new norm in US presidential elections

Taha Meli Arvas

How do you describe a man that US President Donald Trump calls a “total racist,” that scapegoats African-Americans, blaming them for the 2008 economic crisis, who attributes most murders to “male minorities” and boasts in his autobiography of having a girlfriend in every city? Normally you would use nonparliamentary words to describe him but this is an election year, so we’ll call him by his name: billionaire former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Before announcing his candidacy three months ago, Bloomberg was famous for being the founder of Bloomberg News and Bloomberg LP and as one of the richest people on Earth with a net worth of $64 billion. “Nobody’s going to elect me president of the United States,” said Bloomberg years ago, realizing nobody with such a terrible record of making racist and sexist remarks would have a shot at winning the presidency; however, a $200 million public relations campaign has changed the minds of enough voters to make Bloomberg a real threat in this election.

Currently polling at 24% across the US, Bloomberg is employing what many are calling a “money ball” strategy to win the nomination. The Michael Lewis book “Moneyball” discusses how baseball managers flipped conventional baseball-wisdom on its head with great results. Bloomberg is hoping to similarly manipulate the election with a unique strategy: skip all the states, early debates and interviews before Super Tuesday while simultaneously spending $200 million on advertising.

Bloomberg skipped Iowa and New Hampshire and is skipping Nevada and South Carolina to jump in the race on Super Tuesday, March 3. With a last-minute rule change to the debate rules, however, the Democratic National Committee is rewarding Bloomberg by giving him a slot at the Democratic debate tonight in Nevada, though he is not even on the primary ballot.

Super Tuesday awards 33% of all delegates in one day, meaning the race is nearly half-over on the first day Bloomberg gets on the ballot. It’s do or die for him. Bloomberg is betting that with Joe Biden’s weak performance so far, he can be the establishment candidate that centrist Democrats will nominate. After that, he just needs to out-do Trump, and he will be the president of the United States. But with so little scrutiny, has anyone had the time to properly vet Bloomberg?

Bloomberg described the 2008 economic crisis by saying, “It all started back when there was a lot of pressure on banks to make loans to everyone,” seemingly in favor of the racist practice of redlining or refusing to give mortgages to certain minority neighborhoods.

During his tenure as New York City mayor, he ramped up the implementation of “stop-and-frisk,” which was later ruled unconstitutional for violating civil rights. He argued that the only way to get guns out of the hands of young “minorities” is “to throw them up against the wall and frisk them.” A tape of Bloomberg saying that police officers could “Xerox” a copy of the suspects involved in murders because nearly all are “mostly male minorities” is all over social media.

So why should we care? The argument is, Bloomberg has $60 billion to spend and will ultimately spend at least $1 billion of his own money should he get the nomination. Billionaire versus billionaire will be the new model for US presidential elections from here on out. Let the oligarchs take the reins of the country and rule as they please. But is this really such a new phenomenon?

Billionaire Ross Perot singlehandedly got Bill Clinton elected during the 1992 election, splitting the Republican vote. George W. Bush was supported by the Koch Brothers and their billions, and Barack Obama was looked upon as the safe bet to bail out Wall Street and its billionaires. Maybe oligarchs have always run the country, and it took a billionaire versus billionaire election for people to notice?