OLIGARCHS NEED NOT APPLY

OLIGARCHS NEED NOT APPLY: Franklin Delano Roosevelt (left) was dubbed ‘a traitor to his class’ for creating social programs under the New Deal that helped build the middle class while providing for the elderly and the less well-off, but the author argues that former Mayor Michael Bloomberg (right), notwithstanding his efforts at promoting issues like climate control and gun control, governed the city with the impulses of a plutocrat, sometimes at the expense of city workers and residents of minority communities.

Michael Bloomberg wants to run for President, as a Democrat!

There is so much to unpack here that I hardly know where to begin. So let’s begin here: Michael Bloomberg is not a Democrat. He can say he’s a Democrat. He can enroll as a Democrat. But that does not make him a Democrat.

Michael Bloomberg has no allegiance to party or philosophy. Michael Bloomberg is a “Bloombergist.” He believes only in his narcissistic view of himself as one who can solve any problem and right any wrong—as long as the problem or wrong is as he defines it.

Michael Bloomberg has been a Democrat, a Republican, and an Independent when one of those political identifications suited his desire to run for or stay in office. Now once again he wants to be a Democrat so he can run for President. A politician with a less-consistent political philosophy would be difficult to find (or would it?).

Party Label: Plutocrat

Michael Bloomberg is not a centrist, conservative, or liberal. Michael Bloomberg is an oligarch; a plutocrat; a billionaire who is disconnected from the other 99.9 percent of the world’s population. This is the Michael Bloomberg who, when he was Mayor of New York City, gratuitously closed scores of NYC child-care centers, eliminating many hundreds of unionized professional, dedicated child-care workers and causing thousands of poor families to lose access to affordable child care, thus making it difficult if not impossible for them to continue working and supporting their families.

This is the Michael Bloomberg who raised “stop and frisk” to a virtual art form, wreaking havoc on the self-image and confidence of tens of thousands of young men of color, and who still defends it today even in the face of the current safer environment that exists in NYC since he left office in 2013; notwithstanding the major reforms of this patently discriminatory and demeaning practice.

This is the same Michael Bloomberg who engaged in an expensive political campaign to eliminate voter-enacted term limits on the NYC Mayor’s Office because he deemed himself so indispensable to the existence of our city that he just had to stay on past his second term.

Michael Bloomberg wants to run for President because he can. And he can because he has the money to do so. He is Number 11 on Forbes’ 2018 list of the World’s Top 15 Billionaires, weighing in at $50 billion net worth. Yet, while he is a mere piker compared to Jeff Bezos at $112 billion, Bill Gates at $90 billion, and Warren Buffett at $84 billion, $50 billion ain’t nothin’ to sneeze at, either. However, it is well past time to end our flirtation with the notion that men of immense wealth will save us from the very systems that they think are just fine, thank you!

Enough already with the billionaires! These guys despise unions, oppose regulation of any kind, eliminate jobs, belittle work that is not considered “professional” or “technical,” engage in monopolistic practices, and generally are a threat to representative democracy.

Schumer on Board?

So, what’s a Democratic Party leader or Titan of Labor to do? Frighteningly little so far! Not a peep as far as I can determine from labor’s leadership. And they could easily flush out Bloomberg’s anti-union tendencies by just saying “No,” which should get under his thin, narcissistic skin in no time. And as for the Democratic leadership? Well, there have not been any “No’s” from them, either. But more ominously, it is reported that Chuck Schumer is actually warming to the idea of a Bloomberg Boomlet.

What is going on here? Have the Democratic Party establishment and the labor movement become so entangled in the cult of personality that inhabits our current political thought that any philosophical underpinning of our political action is nonexistent?

Trotsky is said to have observed: “The end may justify the means as long as there is something that justifies the end.” Are we just pursuers of means without any ends? Do we flirt with a Michael Bloomberg just because he is a billionaire capable of self-funding an electoral pursuit, notwithstanding his odious policy aims? Do we overlook his anti-union policies; his demeaning view of our city’s young men of color; his monopolistic, anti-regulatory orientation just because he has so much money that he may be successful in pursuit of the presidency?

Has Donald Trump so invaded our consciousness that we do not see, (or perhaps care) that the billionaire, oligarchic Bloombergs of the world are merely Trumps in Democratic clothing, or more ominously, Democrats in Trumpian clothing? A garment containing threads that reveal a fabric composed of narcissistic notions of indispensability, chameleon-like switching of political philosophy (and I use that term loosely!) for short-term and intermittent benefit, but most of all the unbounded belief that only he is the one who can save us?

Say It Ain’t So, Dems

If that is the Democratic Party, then there is no Democratic Party. Surely not the party of FDR, whose New Deal ushered in the greatest period of upward working-class mobility in the history of the world. Nor the party of Kennedy and Johnson who gave the first institutional governmental support to the civil-rights movement and finally secured the economic well-being of the retired and elderly that began with the New Deal.

And if the leaders of labor do not aggressively move to shut this down in light of Bloomberg’s anti-union policies when he was our city’s Mayor, then woe will be the result of their inaction and timidity.

Michael Bloomberg has engaged in two positive policy campaigns as a private citizen-oligarch: funding gun control and environmental initiatives. Those are endeavors that make good use of an oligarch’s lucre. We should wish him well in those endeavors. We should also, however, wish him to stay out of our democratic governmental processes. We don’t need any oligarchs here.


Editor’s note: Mr. Montalbano is a retired labor lobbyist and former political-action director for District Council 37.


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