- Hugh Smiley
Bloomberg's Bid - Buying the Presidency?
The latest nail in the dystopian coffin that is this reality has recently been hammered in, as Michael Bloomberg, the media’s Mr Monopoly man has announced his bid for the Democratic party’s nomination for President of the USA. Billionaire Bloomberg has crusaded in to buy the election seemingly as if it were a meal deal. But what does the latest entry into the extremely crowded democratic primary mean for democracy in America?
On the surface of it (as long as one doesn’t think about it for more than a minute) Bloomberg seems like the perfect Trump combatant, providing a battle between a billionaire and a slightly richer billionaire. However, once one actually thinks about the concept of a billionaire with immense media power, who in the past has been placed in hot water for banning the investigation of himself by his media company, one begins to realise the negative implications of his entry.
Despite his vast wealth, some experience and power over the media, it is unlikely Bloomberg will make it very far in this Democratic primary season. In fact in a recent poll of Democrat voters asking whether Bloomberg should even run, only 19% said yes. As seen in this election so far, his brand of politician is a diminishing one, in a myriad of different forms. Firstly, the billionaire man of the people image fell very flat on its proverbial ass with Tom Steyer (don’t worry I had to google him too), with even a half-asleep Joe Biden being able to dissect the issues of his wealth and how he accrued it in relation to politics. His socially liberal, economically conservative views certainly have been seen to not be the most popular in this primary with candidates such as Klobuchar falling out of favour with the electorate, representing nearly his exact political ideology. Bloomberg’s financial situation is certainly a bonus, giving him a strong advantage in early advertising and media air time, he may perhaps even follow in Ross Perot’s footsteps and simply buy time slots in the media in order to make his case. However, as we have seen, rather shockingly when considering this is American politics, money isn’t everything! Throughout this election and in many others, we have seen wealthy candidates struggle, such as Tom Steyer (consistently polling at around 1%), and even very well-funded candidates such as Joe Biden slipping in the polls.
His success however is a secondary matter, for what Bloomberg represents is a danger of this election process, and our media setup as a whole. A setup where a man who has been out of politics for years and is a near civilian around the political world, can simply jump into a race (at the encouragement of his Billionaire buddy Jeff Bezos) and be given an enormous amount of media attention and analysis simply because of his wealth. This highlights a major issue in American democracy (and potentially our own in the UK), the arbitrary attributing of power and influence for nothing but the size of your bank balance. Furthermore, there is great issue with the media share he holds, whilst it may be slightly conspiratorial, it is very reasonable to suggest that journalists may be somewhat apprehensive to criticise Bloomberg in a major way, due to his astronomical power in the media and his potential to stifle their future career prospects. It’d be wise to watch coverage of Bloomberg and see it to be far less critical than a simple google search of his past would suggest.
Whilst I don’t think Bloomberg will go very far or have too much impact, it’s crucial to recognise the negative implications and the wider problems in politics, as seen by a man who's only reason for being given attention is being a billionaire. We as a people must be more sceptical and critical when we watch the news and keep in mind that often those who are where they are, really shouldn’t be. Maybe it’s time to demand more from a candidate than just a thick wallet.
Image - Flickr.