Bloom or Bust: Presidential Run Good for Democrats?


Wealthy businessmen, such as former NY Mayor Mike Bloomberg, have caused an identity crisis for Democrats (Courtesy of Flickr).

By Collin Bonnell

One of the largest crises facing the United States today is our rapidly expanding wealth gap. While America’s wealth gap is nothing new, our recovery from the Great Recession, during which government policies focused on bailing out banks which had taken excessive risks, has greatly exacerbated the problem. These policies reimbursed many of the most wealthy Americans while simultaneously neglecting the millions of Americans who lost large portions of their wealth through no fault of their own.

Despite the growing severity of the wealth gap in the United States, the issue has largely been ignored by both political parties, which have benefited greatly from their ability to stoke culture wars and distract the American public from this looming crisis. This misdirection has allowed many Democrats, particularly those based in New York and California, to claim to stand for change and reform, while maintaining profitable links to investment banks and reckless investors.

Additionally, the controversial Citizens United ruling permitted the removal of any remaining barriers between America’s financial and political establishments.

This disparity is what worries me about the recent revelation that Michael Bloomberg, the former Republican mayor of New York, has been considering a run for the presidency in 2020 on the Democratic ticket. Bloomberg’s potential run, along with the campaigns of other wealthy neoliberals, poses a direct threat not only to the future of the Democratic Party, but to that of the middle class as well.

Additionally, the centrist wing of the Democratic Party has often cited the economic models of tech moguls like Bezos, Zuckerberg, and Musk as models for the future of the American economy.

This praise continues despite the fact that the business structures of these moguls’ companies, which employ very small numbers of people yet profit heavily from initiating the collapse of the American retail sector, have greatly exacerbated the wealth gap problem in the past decade.

Perhaps even more frightening is the fact that many establishment Democrats have displayed a sense of entitlement to positions of power, with many, like the recently ousted congressman Jim Crowley, ignoring the needs of their constituents in order to further their own political careers.

Others, like Hillary Clinton, have accused political insurgents like Bernie Sanders of destabilizing the party by questioning their wisdom.

Some have even embraced the blatant demagoguery for which they so often condemn Trump. For instance, Andrew Cuomo recently financed a flyer accusing his progressive opponent Cynthia Nixon of being “anti-semitic” for her mild criticism of Israel, despite the fact that Nixon herself regularly attends services at a synagogue.

The Democratic Party has continued to favor the campaigns of patricians despite the fact that these acts risk splitting the party between the establishment neoliberal branch. This tendency sees the potential rise of wealthy candidates such as Bloomberg, Cuomo, Bezos and even Zuckerberg, as a political asset.

The insurgent progressive ring, which has rejected this opinion and moved left to embrace social democracy and even moderated forms of democratic socialism, a move reflected by the recent rise of Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and groups like the Democratic Socialists of America, whose membership has exploded since 2016. If this trend continues, the Democrats will remain divided, forfeiting their promising prospects during the 2020 election.

What America needs in order to avoid the long-term concentration of wealth in the hands of a small elite is an immediate push for renewed antitrust legislation, a restoration of the progressive tax model and increased social support.

If current trends continue and more billionaires are allowed to ascend into positions of political power, our country risks a slide into full-blown oligarchy. The Democrats must make an immediate and radical change to avoid this fate by embracing a platform of social-democracy and economic reformism.

The Democratic Party finds itself at a crossroads. It must choose to either embrace its past image as the party of the working classes; that of a party dedicated to principles of equity, economic security, and the right of the many to not suffer under the few, or it can embrace an oligarchy, one in which a handful of modern patricians rule over the many in a political system based not on talent but on connections and heredity.

The Democratic Party finds itself in a position where it has the ability to dictate the future of the United States. It must choose to either move to the left and embrace the egalitarian principles which allowed it to dominate American politics during the New Deal Coalition, or to cave in to the demands of a small established elite and embrace oligarchy.

If it chooses the former and returns to its roots, then a long period of prosperity can again be experienced by the American middle class.

Yet, if it were to embrace wealthy elites such as Bloomberg and choose the latter, we may soon find ourselves trapped, incapable of reversing our creation of an oligarchic political system.

If we are to maintain a republic in which all Americans have a voice and a future, then the latter fate should be avoided at all costs.

For us Democrats, the future of our party, our nation and our society all depend on the choices we make during the next few years.

We find ourselves able to determine the direction which our country will take for decades to come. I can only pray that we choose the right path.


Collin Bonnell, FCRH ’21, is a history and political science major from Hingham, Massachusettes.