Michael Bloomberg wants to be president of the United States yet faces little to no scrutiny. Black and brown men of New York City have been interrogated more than he has. Other candidates appear on debate stages to be questioned by the American people. Not Bloomberg. Thanks to his wealth, he can afford to sidestep this process entirely by spending millions on TV ads. Is that fair? Surely anyone who wants to be president of United States needs to be vetted. That’s why I decided to dig through reams of video and audio footage of the former mayor. What I discovered was deeply troubling.
In audio that I unearthed and disseminated on Tuesday from a 2015 speech at the Aspen Institute, Bloomberg gave his rationale for his controversial stop-and-frisk policy, saying:
“Put those cops where the crime is, which means in minority neighborhoods … [the] unintended consequences is people say, ‘Oh, my God, you are arresting kids for marijuana that are all minorities.’ Yes, that’s true. Why? Because we put all the cops in the minority neighborhoods. Yes, that’s true. Why do we do it? Because that’s where all the crime is.” He goes on to say: “Ninety-five per cent of your murders – murderers and murder victims – fit one MO. You can just take the description, Xerox it and pass it out to all the cops.”
Not only is this data point inaccurate, but it also reflects a deeply disturbing, racist worldview that harms minority men and is based on fallacious logic and inaccurate data.
The unearthed clip provides a glimpse into his deeply held philosophies regarding young minority men as well as his governing principles. The clip demands that the mayor come forward and answer to the people he ostensibly wants to lead.
Unfortunately, far from using the footage to help hold Bloomberg to account, many in the media want to divert attention away from his wrongdoings. One CNN anchor, for example, tried to malign me and question my motives for disseminating the tapes. She wondered how I got the audio and why I was distributing it now. Let me answer her: I got the audio by doing the most basic research that should be expected of any journalist. As to why I released it now, because if not now, when?
I make no apologies for my vehement opposition to billionaire Michael Bloomberg purchasing his way into the 2020 election. In fact, I believe that every American citizen should be terrified by the idea that, in the midst of a Democratic primary where big ideas are being debated and ideologies are being scrutinized, one man can advance not by merit but by the millions of his own money spent on ads. The gall of it is unacceptable.
The Aspen audio clip reveals Bloomberg’s governing philosophy: use the force of the government not to correct the underlying causes of a problem such as violence but to persecute the people who are the victims of the violence:
“And the way you get the guns out of the kids’ hands is to throw them up against the wall and frisk them. [Inaudible] and then they start, they say, [inaudible] ‘Oh, I don’t want to get caught.’ So they don’t bring the gun. They still have a gun, but they leave it at home.”
He believes that the power of the government should be wielded to control the masses instead of to promote general welfare. This is evident in other statements he has made in the past. Consider the video of Bloomberg as he explains the rationale behind the infamous soda tax:
“Some people say, well, taxes are regressive. But in this case, yes they are. That’s the good thing about them, because the problem is in people that don’t have a lot of money. And so higher taxes should have a bigger impact on their behavior and how they deal with themselves.
“So I listen to people saying, ‘Oh, we don’t want to tax the poor,’ Well, we want the poor to live longer so that they can get an education and enjoy life.”
This belief that the government should use punitive force to “correct” the ills of marginalized communities is deeply disturbing. Is this what we want in the White House? How can Americans know without the opportunity to ask?
These are precisely the types of worldviews and philosophies that must be interrogated by the American people. Instead, the mayor is circumventing our democratic process by leveraging his tremendous wealth.
Which is why, until Michael Bloomberg addresses his critics in a meaningful way, we are calling on all of those politicians and leaders who have endorsed him to rescind their endorsements. How can they endorse someone who has yet to answer for worldviews that, if he still holds them, would certainly disqualify him from being president?
Democracy is too fragile to endure the complete circumvention of our electoral process by a billionaire with enough wealth to take the easy route while other candidates do the actual work of convincing America they are the right choice.
Benjamin Dixon is the host of the Benjamin Dixon podcast