Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg should take one of the greatest pro-democracy actions in the history of democracy and donate $1 billion to register Democratic voters, protect voting rights of minorities, mobilize young people and women, support Democratic campaign committees, and back Democratic candidates for the House, Senate and critical statewide offices.
Such an enormous donation would give an additional boost to candidate recruiting. With control of both houses of Congress so vital to the future of the nation, party leaders and activists should go all-out to draft candidates such as Steve Bullock in Montana and Stacey Abrams in Georgia to run in vital and winnable Senate elections.
Such an enormous donation will dramatize the great urgency and high stakes of this election. It could inspire more super-wealthy Democrats such as Tom Steyer and others to make dramatic donations. It could inspire prominent leading Democrats, such as former President Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama, to do dramatically more to elect Democrats than they are doing today.
While Bloomberg will not be my first choice to be the Democratic nominee, I will passionately and aggressively support whoever is nominated for president — a commitment every candidate should emphasize in every upcoming debate loudly, clearly and unequivocally.
Bloomberg, like several other candidates for president, is superbly qualified to be president and sincerely committed to a wide range of policies — if not all policies — that are close to the hearts of Democrats.
Why do I offer the radical proposal that Bloomberg should donate $1 billion to the Democratic cause in 2020?
Democracy is under fierce attack from abroad and at home. The Russian success in helping to elect President Trump in 2016 will go down in history as one of the greatest attacks against democracy in the history of democracy. Trump continues his disconcerting practice of praising various foreign dictators who wish America ill, and soliciting or pressuring foreign friends and foes — from Russia to China to Ukraine — to turn American democracy into a shameful and despicable festival of foreign corruption of American elections.
Similarly American democracy is under attack by aggressive Republican actions to destroy voting rights, suppress voting by racial minorities, undermine democracy by partisan gerrymandering and corrupt democracy by allowing unlimited secret spending in campaigns through the shameful Citizens United decision — practices that have far too often been allowed and encouraged by party-line votes of GOP appointed justices on a Supreme Court that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) proudly boasts he aggressively packed in favor of Republicans and conservatives.
Like virtually all active Democrats, I am alarmed, outraged and horrified by the dangers to democracy if after Election Day 2020 Trump is reelected, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin is celebrating, and the Senate remains controlled by Republicans led by a majority leader who is both historically unpopular and historically powerful in a Senate run by submissive Republicans who act like cult followers of Trump, who acts more like a Supreme Leader of a one party state than the president of the world’s greatest democracy.
Bloomberg needs to decide whether he will be a problem or solution to the crises engulfing our democracy. There will be big trouble if Bloomberg does not participate in early primaries, caucuses and debates and then pounces on Super Tuesday with a deluge of spending seeking to drown out the remaining candidates. I do not believe Bloomberg understands the angry backlash he will face if this scenario unfolds as he plans.
By contrast, whether he ultimately continues his campaign or drops out, Bloomberg can play a historic role as the great equalizer in American democracy until Citizens United is reversed and GOP attacks against voting rights are ended.
With a net worth reportedly above $50 billion, a $1 billion donation to Democrats would not crimp his lifestyle but would make an indescribably powerful contribution to American democracy, American justice and electing candidates who will save the earth from the destruction of climate change.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was chief deputy majority whip of the House of Representatives. He holds an LLM in international financial law from the London School of Economics.