Editorial : Michael Bloomberg's entry into Democratic race

【明報專訊】Michael Bloomberg, a US billionaire and former mayor of New York, announced last week that he would enter the Democratic primary for presidential nomination in 2020.

Bloomberg is the 18th contender in the Democratic primary. Of the four contenders leading in the polls, former vice president Joe Biden is a moderate and establishment favourite. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are both veteran politicians as well as radical progressives whose economic policy proposals lean towards socialism. Pete Buttigieg is a homosexual mayor who is just 37 years old. As of today Biden is at the top of the polls, but the gap between him and the other three is narrowing. At one point Sanders was hospitalised and had to suspend his campaigning. As a result Warren, who is in a similar position to Sanders on the political spectrum, saw her support rocketing.

Like Donald Trump, Bloomberg is a tycoon. But he is different from Trump in the sense that he proposes a more equal tax system and tougher gun control. He also admits the scientific proof of climate change. These positions very much chime in with the core values of the Democratic Party and are found acceptable by moderate voters, making him an ideal moderate candidate for swing voters. Therefore, he can be a worthy adversary of Donald Trump. The great damage Trump has done to the US in terms of its domestic politics, society, economy and diplomacy and the resultant severe divisions in US society are the background to Bloomberg's entry into the race.

However, Bloomberg's status and background are a double-edged sword. As the deputy of former president Barack Obama and a veteran politician, Biden was originally the darling of the Democratic moderate establishment. Bloomberg's entry will not only cost Biden his donors, but also dilute Biden's vote.

More importantly, Bloomberg is a businessman-cum-politician like Trump who intends to run the country like he runs his company. To Democrats who value change, it is difficult to hope that Bloomberg can be a new leader that can bring about structural change in American society. He has listed all kinds of achievements when governing New York, the largest financial centre in the world. This shows exactly that his administrative experience is non-partisan. While his governance style might have been useful amid the 2008 financial crisis, it is questionable whether it is applicable to America today. Furthermore, back then he was elected as mayor of New York as a Republican. His support for "stop-and-frisk" policing during his mayorship has been strongly criticised. It was also in his mayorship that the Occupy Wall Street movement was forcefully dispersed. These will make him prone to opponents' attacks.

The crux of the matter is this: as the anxiety over the disparity between rich and poor, as well as that over influence exerted by large corporations, grows day by day, it is highly questionable whether a Democratic Party dominated by females, ethnic minorities and young progressives will nominate a billionaire who is late to the game and not very politically approvable to face Donald Trump.

明報社評2019.12.02:民主黨反極左糾偏 彭博參選利弊互見








lean towards sth : to have a tendency to prefer sth, especially a particular opinion or interest

non-partisan : not supporting the ideas of any political party or group

ethnic minority : a group of people from a particular culture or of a particular race living in a country where the main group is of a different culture or race

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