We should be afraid of what Mike Bloomberg’s campaign meant

Jack Harris '22 explains how, in three months, Mike Bloomberg changed America forever.

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Jack Harris '22 gives his thoughts on the Mike Bloomberg campaign.

Mike Bloomberg, in the eyes of many, was destined to be a loser. Nothing about him made him an appealing candidate. He was a “controversial” mayor of New York City who changed parties barely a decade ago, joined the presidential race in the 11th hour, and showed a lack of transparency, characterized by vague policies and an unwillingness to release his tax returns. What made Bloomberg’s platform so strange was how undefined it was. He would claim support for something such as a wealth tax, but up until he began his campaign he had always referred to the wealth tax as “Unconstitutional and counterproductive”. Despite his vagueness, Bloomberg was solidly in third place in most polls, up until he dropped out of the race. How did this happen? It might have something to do with the fact that Bloomberg spent $620 million on his own campaign in only three months, completely over-saturating the American airwaves, and bringing him far more exposure than any other candidate. For comparison Donald Trump spent $600 million across the entire 2016 election, most of which was from donors, not out of pocket.

Bloomberg was much, much closer to being the nominee than most people realize.”

— Jack Harris '22

Because of all of Bloomberg’s negative attributes, he was unlikely to win the nomination this year. But even though he entered into the race late, never fully defined his platform and performed poorly during the debates, Bloomberg was much, much closer to being the nominee than most people realize. If Joe Biden had failed to miraculously re-surge on Super Tuesday, then Bloomberg would be the leading centrist democratic candidate. If Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar had decided to drop out after Super Tuesday, instead of before, Mike Bloomberg might be the favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination. And then what? With Bloomberg being incomprehensibly wealthy, he could have bought virtually endless exposure and advertising. Would that have been enough to win the presidency? Who knows. What we do know is that Bloomberg was uncomfortably close to becoming president, simply because of how rich he is. Bloomberg very nearly bought the election.

“Buying” elections isn’t exactly a new concept. Lobbying and donations have been a fact of politics for decades. Billionaires like Bloomberg would make large donations to a candidate who favored them, and that candidate had a much better chance of winning. But now, with Bloomberg, the billionaires are the candidates, not the shadow donors. Who’s to say more won’t follow in Bloomberg’s place?

Now […] the billionaires are the candidates, not the shadow donors.”

— Jack Harris '22

To say that from now on every president will be an ultra-wealthy billionaire might be a stretch, but that is now a reality we have to face as possible. Sure, it may not happen next election cycle, or even the one after that, but having a billionaire buy his way into the election through TV exposure is something that is destined to happen eventually. America is supposed to have democratic elections. Democracy isn’t democracy if you’re buying votes.