Imagine what Midwest looks like if Bloomberg beats Sanders in a close primary
For people who were hoping that the 2016 primary would never end, this was a good week. And it was even better for Michael Bloomberg
Likely in response to a news story about Barack Obama reaching out to and many Obama allies circling around Beto O’Rourke as the charismatic former Member of Congress considers a 2020 presidential run, it began to feel a little January 2016 up on Twitter. There have been a flurry of pointed attacks the man who lost to Ted Cruz by 2.6% (compared to the 16.1% Trump lost to Cruz by in the 2016 Texas primary).
But the general critique from most Bernie supporters makes sense — though he backs
Medicare for All and (Sorry. He didn’t during his Senate campaign actually.) impeaching Trump, O’Rourke isn’t a leftist. And Sanders supporters would prefer an actual leftist, one particular leftist — Bernie Sanders. As RoseAnn DeMoro of National Nurses United told Dave Weigel, “There are no other candidates.”
The argument that O’Rourke is not progressive because he didn’t join the Progressive Caucus in the House is far more subtle. Living in a swing state, I may be more tolerant of the positioning of a Democrat who wants to win state-wide office.
On guns, for instance, O’Rourke and Bernie Sanders actually sound pretty similar, given that they both had to win in states where any argument about gun safety would explode if it didn’t begin with a preamble about respecting the Second Amendment. And O’Rourke’s famed defense of NFL players kneeling in protest was far more progressive on race than anything I’ve ever heard Sanders say (though I still think O’Rourke left out the crucial point that rich frauds are exploiting these manufactured divisions for their own gain). And debating credentials based on groups you won’t join seems odd in support of a guy who won’t join the Democratic Party.
But positioning the 2020 primary as a battle between Beto and Bernie not only does a disservice the the more than a dozen other excellent but also imperfect likely candidates — it also leaves a giant opening for a billionaire who just joined the Democratic Party, again.
In a field of 10 or 12 candidates, it doesn’t take much to come out on top. The winner of the first contests, before the field has been winnowed, will be anointed as the frontrunner, with all the electoral advantages that conveys, even though in a field that crowded, he or she may have won only 15 percent of the vote. Say, for instance, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who can easily spend billions on his campaign, takes the early contests with that 15 percent, while Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Sherrod Brown lag narrowly behind. Bloomberg (or whoever) could build a commanding lead even though it’s likely a majority of Democrats might not want him as their nominee
Meyerson is recommending ranked-choice voting as a hedge against Bloomberg slipping through the Democratic primary — something many Republicans probably wish they had done before Trump snuck through a similarly large field. I’m not sure ranked voting is even a possibility now, but there is still time for Democrats to consider some sort of collective action to prevent a Bloomberg nomination.
I should clarify that should the former Mayor be the Democratic nominee, I’d have to support him as I’d support anyone who could displace Donald Trump or whomever the GOP nominates. Few have done more to fight the scourge of smoking, the catastrophic effects of climate change and the amorality of the NRA. And he’s done so strategically and relatively quietly, much in the same way he helped Democrats win back the House.
But Bloomberg’s pursuit and defense of a racist “stop and frisk” policy that he still has not backed away from despite years of proof that New York City is safer without it, is unforgivable. Nearly as bad has been his support of Republicans like Pat Toomey and Rick Snyder here in Michigan, who he helped reelect, even after Snyder and his party restored the racist Emergency Manager Law that made the Flint Water Crisis possible, even after voters rejected it through a ballot proposal. Having had to live through eight years of Snyder and watching him enable the Michigan GOP’s lame duck rejection of democracy makes my grudge against Bloomberg personal.
I don’t want a billionaire who was recently a Republican and who has helped elect some awful Republicans to win the Democratic nomination, especially when we have a chance to nominate a number of stellar progressives. And anyone one like Rick Snyder is a good faith partner because Snyder vetoed one NRA-backed bill while enabling the entire GOP agenda doesn’t have the political sense to deal with a GOP that rejects democracy.
But my biggest concern is what happens to the Democratic Party if Bloomberg wins, especially in the Midwest.
Do Bernie Sanders supporters back the cartoon version of a benevolent billionaire over the Trump’s cartoon robber baron or do they go Green or just stay home? Do the black voters who helped Democrats take back the Midwest join them?
Trump “won” Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania barely and only through the unholy combination of voter suppression, third party voters and voter apathy. And Trump’s twin talents for exploiting divisions and smearing his opponents by accusing them of being Donald Trump could possibly even be more effective against Bloomberg than it was against Hillary Clinton.
I don’t want to find out. We have more than dozen fine candidates, including O’Rourke, Sanders, almost every Democratic U.S. Senator, Stacey Abrams and Andrew Gillum.
Let’s figure out a way that one of them wins and so Bloomberg won’t.
[Image by Next Paige.]