It’s not the first time that billionaires have run for president of the United States but it’s becoming the norm and not all the reasons are dark as some present. Two successful businessmen and billionaires, Ross Perot and Steve Forbes, have run unsuccessfully.
Perot was an effective independent candidate even though he didn’t win. This was a lost opportunity for independent-minded candidates and the Libertarian Party who could’ve followed Perot’s run with building a stronger independent movement regionally and nationally. Instead the libertarian movement became the political home of former Rep. Ron Paul who never built a solid foundation.
More of the same old political playbook by the two major parties and self-interested politicians hindered the development of an independent party’s development.
Forbes ran and launched the modern-day consumption-based tax movement. Whether you favor a fair tax or flat tax, it is now part of the political discussion though not always in the headlines.
A recent HuffPost headline — “Bloomberg’s Presidential Bid Comes Amid A Golden Age For Super-Rich Politicians” — takes the billionaire from behind the scenes handing out the money to win campaigns and places said billionaires in front, at the podium, asking for votes.
Donald Trump is the first billionaire United States president and he spent only $66 million of his own money in the 2016 election. Billionaires can self-fund campaigns and have done so at many levels of government: one example, Jim Justice the governor of West Virginia. Trump proved it’s the voters who make the decision not the money put into the race.
Billionaire Tom Steyer was running for impeachment before he decided to run for president. So far, his most remembered moment is the tie he wore in his inaugural Democratic debate. He was not a factor in his second appearance, but he has the money to stay in the race and has proven he has the will to spend whatever is necessary. He’s not as good a politician as a businessman because the return on investment politically has been so far unrealized.
Enter Michael Bloomberg. He has enough money to buy the presidency, if he could, but can he? One thing’s for sure, Bloomberg knows how to allocate capital and apply it in the political realm. Bloomberg has a track record of spending whatever is necessary to achieve his political goals. He bought his way into Gracie Mansion in New York City for the third time at the cost of $102 million and in his three mayoral races combined, he spent roughly $250 million. The last win was a narrow margin but in politics there is no second place.
Bloomberg then spent $100 million on the midterm elections to help Democrats achieve a House majority in 2018. Sure, looks like he was setting the stage, or buying the stage, so he could step on and run for president. That’s not going to cut it with many in the anti-billionaire Democratic field.
He laid out his platform in his announcement and two key points of the Bloomberg platform should concern Americans. Guns and taxes or more accurately anti-gun and pro-taxes.
Millions of Americans legally buy guns, but Bloomberg is spending tens of millions of dollars and buying political power at the state levels to stop Americans from being able to buy or own guns. He does this through his heavily funded organization, Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund, which brought in $69.5 million in total revenue last year according to their 990 tax form.
He spent locally with state legislatures and $2.5 million in the recent Virginia elections. Virginia state Sen. Richard Saslaw (D) just introduced SB16 which is a legislative gun grab. If passed it would instantly expand the definition of an “assault firearm” to cover many different semi-automatic rifles and pistols, effectively creating felons out of law-abiding Virginians.
At the International Monetary Fund’s 2018 Spring meeting, Bloomberg argued that taxing the poor is a good thing. I thought Democrats wanted to tax the rich so the poor could get their fair share. I guess Bloomberg didn’t get the memo from the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
Hello Bernie Sanders, you may not believe billionaires should exist, but you and the billionaire agree on taxes going up for middle-class Americans and even the poor.
Oddly enough, many of these capitalist-made billionaires are now pushing heavy-handed, even socialist styled government control of our lives. What is it about these elitists who feel they know better how we should run our lives?
Bloomberg’s entry is a good news/bad news situation for the Democrats. For the left-wing base, the party leadership has a problem with appeal from non-left-wing candidates and risks base voters staying home on Election Day.
This does present a potentially interesting situation in the form of a brokered convention. Bloomberg’s plan to participate in Super Tuesday on March 3 gives him plenty of time to ramp up. With California a part of Super Tuesday, if he is able to capture enough early primary votes, it’s more likely he won’t surpass the other candidates in the field. This brings the primary field to Milwaukee for the DNC convention.
This could be contentious and confusing for the Democratic primary base. Will the left wing of the Democratic base play ball with the establishment decision? Democrats have big decisions to make both at the leadership level and at the voting booth. It’s not just the presidency but the future of the Democratic Party that’s on the line.
I will be there to watch it all play out and thanks to media and social media so will you. Politics is now a popcorn sport and policy will take a sideline to the publicity.
Webb is host of “The David Webb Show” on SiriusXM Patriot 125, host of “Reality Check with David Webb” on Fox Nation, a Fox News contributor and a frequent television commentator. His column appears twice a month in The Hill.