New Republic - November 8, 2019

"They imagine themselves in grand terms, being the only person with the vision, the know-how, and the leadership skills to get the job done. American culture already lauds this sort of individual—the boss with the biggest paycheck, rather than the workers who built those earnings. It speaks equally to the billionaire’s entitlement: their understanding that the presidency should be rightfully theirs if they want to take it, since they’re used to being able to buy anything they want."

The news that Michael Bloomberg is expected to file to be on the presidential ballot in Alabama was not greeted on Thursday night with explosions of public joy and gratitude. There were no street parties or flash mobs, no lines of cars honking cheerfully outside Bloomberg HQ. For some reason, the American public did not realize the honor they may yet experience: the chance to pull the lever for Michael Bloomberg, Democratic candidate for president.

Many Americans instead are asking, Why? Why this particular billionaire, when we’ve already got one billionaire trying to buy his way into the White House, while another billionaire has already dropped out? That’s not to mention the other billionaires floated for the 2020 cycle, including Jamie Dimon, Oprah, and Mark Cuban. Who is telling these people, or suggesting to the media on their behalf, that they should go to the immense effort and expense of running for president?

Bloomberg may be merely testing the presidential waters yet again, albeit more seriously than he ever has before; perhaps he’s getting his name on the Alabama ballot, the state with the earliest deadline to do so, just in case Joe Biden truly, literally collapses. But if the former New York mayor is serious this time, then why did he wait so long? We’re only three months from the first presidential primary; for him to win as a Democrat, an unprecedented movement of primary voters (who are extremely satisfied with the existing choices) would have to spring up almost immediately and carry him atop their shoulders to the nomination. He would have to accomplish this without appearing in a single Democratic debate, because he has indicated he would entirely self-fund his campaign. (There are donor thresholds to qualify for debates.)

The most troubling aspect of this is the prospect that Bloomberg might actually think this could happen—that he has enough name recognition (and positive name recognition at that), enough broadly appealing ideas, enough political wizardry, and enough money to pull it off. He only decisively checks one of those boxes. ...
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