An image of Michael Bloomberg surrounded by dollar bills.

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There’s No Good Reason to Back Bloomberg

He may be able to buy his way into the race. But that doesn’t mean NYC’s billionaire former mayor can get us to the finish line. And would we even want him to?

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Mike Bloomberg is a racist who thinks Black and Hispanic men are predisposed to committing crimes, and who endorsed a policy that led to thousands of these men being unable to walk down the street, to walk to school, to walk to the train without being thrown up against a wall and searched.

He is also a misogynist who thinks that if women were smart, we’d all be at libraries instead of at Bloomingdale’s. Perhaps this is at least part of why 64 women have brought 40 sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuits against him and his organizations over the past few decades.

He’s a billionaire who thinks he should be able to buy an election.

He should be everything Democrats stand against. But according to a scary amount of people right now: He’s our only hope of beating Trump.

And not because anyone actually likes him or thinks he would do a good job as president—certainly not a better job than all our other nominees. It is for two reasons and two reasons alone, according to his new ever-growing groundswell of supporters.

  1. He has so much money! And he’ll spend that money! On helping us win! And then when he’s president, he’ll continue buying so many elections for us and it will be great. It’s normal to buy elections now and we are all fine with this!
  2. He will “get under Trump’s skin” with a bunch of insults about how he isn’t even a real billionaire, crafted by comedians and psychologists who are experts on narcissism.

I have asked, multiple times on Twitter and elsewhere, how the latter is supposed to result in votes. The most common answer, from those willing to answer, is that these insults will cause Trump to act crazy, on account of how he is a narcissist who simply can’t handle being insulted. Then, people will see him acting crazy and not vote for him.

Of course, given his performance at the debate Wednesday night, it seems doubtful that even with a massive writing team, he’d be able to pull it off. He’s about as charismatic as a dried out jellyfish.

Now, I don’t know where anyone else has been the last five years, but I’ve been in America and fully conscious and I can tell you that Trump has been acting crazy this whole entire time. He’s been mocked this whole entire time. And that it hasn’t affected a damn ounce of his support, the entire time. In fact, it has made his followers even more devoted to him. He weaponizes the mocking and turns it into “When they laugh at me, they’re also laughing at you,” a particularly potent form of propaganda on the Right.

Not everyone on the Right likes his behavior, but even those who do not will vote for him because they care more about their agenda than they do about who is putting it through. Oh! He’s yelling on the internet because a celebrity said a mean thing about him? He’s bribing other countries for dirt on his political rivals? That’s fine. When are we banning abortion?

Also, for the record, it’s not going to get under his skin. Sen. Marco Rubio tried that, and just as Trump has with Bloomberg, all Trump did was call him short. Trump will also have the “Trump card” of “this guy is gonna take away your soda” —which, laugh if you want, is not a thing people like. I don’t even drink soda and I’m a little mad about it.

The other argument I’ve heard is that it doesn’t matter if it’s effective, because it’s cathartic for those who hate him and those people “deserve” to see a presidential candidate running and saying mean things about Trump.

Catharsis isn’t always a good thing. It can be dangerous, it can end up alienating people, and our desire for it can often lead us down the wrong path or, at the very least, trip us up. Republicans voted for Trump, in large part, because his cruelty felt cathartic for them. Nearly everything I’ve ever said or done that I regret is something that felt really good and cathartic at the time.

There is no one who is not currently planning to “Vote Blue No Matter Who” that is going to feel that catharsis quite as strongly as those who are. All of the people who will get that feeling from these ads are already voting Democratic. In fact, those who won’t get that feeling might be more inclined to go: “Oh they’re both gross, who even cares?” It’s the kind of thing that makes people feel burnt out—and possibly even not vote.

Another large part of Bloomberg’s plan is to pay people $2,500 a month to pretend to be his own personal army of online Bloom-bros. That is an actual Republican smear! Like, when we have protests, they claim that we are only there because George Soros paid us to be there. Bloomberg wants to make that a reality.

This means that one thing Trump is gonna have over Bloomberg, should he be the nominee, is that his supporters actually, authentically support him. And that kind of thing matters.

From the outside looking in, it seems like Trump’s whole formula should be easy enough to emulate. Get a racist, sexist billionaire who likes getting in stupid fights with people, get him a paid army of online memers, and people will vote for him and boom! We win!

Except we don’t, because that is ridiculous. We’re not Republicans, those things do not appeal to us, and all of the people who find that appealing are going to vote for the real thing over the fugazi version. They’re not going to vote for him, a lot of us aren’t going to be thrilled about voting for him— who has he got?

I get that things feel crazy now. I get that it feels like there are new rules— but there aren’t. Democrats will win not by trying to do a half-assed impression of what helps Republicans win, but by leaning directly into the things that make us more appealing.

Things like opposing war, fighting for civil rights and liberties, fighting for equality for all people, fighting for the separation of church and state, helping those who need help rather than those who don’t, fighting for working people, fighting against corruption and greed, fighting to save the planet, fighting against rich people taking too much and having too much power, fighting for things that will make everyone’s lives a little more livable and appealing to people’s sense of fairness and justice—these are all awesome things and we should not forget that.

Let Republicans be the party of hate, the party of racism, the party of misogyny, the party of trying to force their religion on everyone and pushing abstinence education on kids,  the party of pollution, the party that is fine with victims of mass shootings going broke from their medical bills, the party of corporate greed and corporate welfare, the party of the country-club goers, the party that hates poor people, the party of unbelievably stupid conspiracy theories. Let them be the party of assholes, let us stand in opposition to that, and we will win. Without Bloomberg’s billions.

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