Mike Bloomberg entered the presidential race when it was already packed with candidates, and in a short amount of time, he’s already become a formidable candidate.
Black people are concerned. But there are also Black people who are in full support.
The former New York mayor is steadily becoming the most polarizing candidate in the 2020 election — so much so that some influential Black leaders are adapting an “anyone but Bloomberg” mantra.
On Friday, writer and political commentator Charles Blow tweeted, “I’m fine with any of the remaining Dem candidates. I was fine with almost all of the original two dozen. But Bloomberg is a hill I cannot climb. I’m hoping and praying that Dems chose a candidate I can champion.”
Some folks are even opting to stay home on election day if Bloomberg becomes the Democratic nominee.
Obviously, it’s too soon to call, but the threats of not voting definitely say a lot about how certain Black people feel about Bloomberg.
The sense of panic probably comes from a series of successes for Bloomberg. According to a new survey from St. Pete Polls, Bloomberg is leading the pack of Democratic candidates in Florida, which is known as a key swing state. The poll shows that he has 27.3 percent support from the state, which is up 10 points from a similar poll released last month. Meanwhile, Joe Biden, who was leading polls before Bloomberg entered the race, had his support plummet in Florida, falling from more than 41 percent in January to 25.9 percent this month.
Biden’s support from Black voters also isn’t set in stone. According to a recent Quinnipiac poll, Bloomberg is trailing behind Biden for Black voter support with 25 percent support while Biden has 27 percent.
When audio resurfaced this week of Bloomberg using racist rhetoric back in 2015, it could’ve had an impact on his campaign. He basically defended his stop and frisk policy from when he was mayor of New York City, saying, “Ninety-five percent of murders — murderers and murder victims fit one M.O. You can just take a description, Xerox it, and pass it out to all the cops. They are male, minorities, 16-25.” The clip caused people to pull up more racist clips from Bloomberg, including one where he said, “I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little.”
Much of the Black community was outraged, yet some prominent Black lawmakers and political figures still endorsed Bloomberg that same week, including Reps. Lucy McBath of Georgia, Gregory Meeks of New York and Stacey Plaskett of the Virgin Islands.
With Bloomberg still going strong, many Black people who oppose him are asking why?
One obvious reason is because he’s a billionaire and can buy himself into politics and into advertisement. Even if he’s not paying politicians directly, he could be playing the game of “you support me and I can support you in the future” via financial means or vice-vera. The mayor of D.C., Muriel Bowser, already endorsed Bloomberg recently after his foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, donated $4 million to DC Public Schools back in 2015. Again this is not to say the two actions are directly connected, but money definitely talks.
Even if money wasn’t involved, the concessions certain groups are giving Bloomberg brings to question if his wealth and history as a businessman has anything to do with it. For example, on Friday, Facebook made an announcement that it would not add posts that politicians commissioned from influencers to its public ad library, according to CNBC. The ad library is important because anyone can see the message of the ad, its’ reach and the money put behind it. Facebook launched the portal in March 2019 after government officials learned how Facebook and similar platforms were manipulated by foreign forces in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The ad library allows for more transparency.
However, since influencer posts commissioned by politicians won’t be added to the ad library, these kinds of posts can become a backdoor route for politicians trying to advertise themselves on the pages of people who have millions of followers.
Facebook’s announcement of the rule comes after a week of Bloomberg memes that influencers have been posting. In other words, Bloomberg could be paying these influencers loads of money to endorse him and he doesn’t have to be under the watchful eye of the ad library.
This is just the tip of the iceberg on how Bloomberg is using his status and wealth to move the elections. A lot of Black people are being bought, but some aren’t convinced. Check out some of the most pointed critiques below.
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