Middle Israel: Bloomberg is good first and foremost because he is not a populist
By AMOTZ ASA-ELPublished: FEBRUARY 13, 2020 22:46Advertisement
Though hardly one month old, the Democrats’ assault on Donald Trump’s presidency can be declared a disaster already now.The first conclusion from the first two primaries is that the voters don’t want the previous establishment; that is why they flatly rejected Joe Biden.The second conclusion is that the Democratic Party has forgotten nothing and learned nothing since Hillary Clinton’s defeat.And the third conclusion is that if the next president is not the incumbent Republican, it will be the former Republican Michael Bloomberg.That the Democrats were preparing a farce became apparent in Iowa, where they could not figure out how to count 160,000 votes. While this could at least be excused as a mishap, what happened in the subsequent primary is a symptom of political decay.BERNIE SANDERS’S victory in New Hampshire is misleading. That contest’s centrists won more than half the vote, arguably a collective vote of no confidence in their rivals’ radicalism.Still, Sanders is steadily emerging as the Democratic front-runner, and that alone is a major Democratic fiasco – ideologically, socially and politically.Ideologically, because a self-declared socialist who praised along the years the Soviet Union, Nicaragua’s Sandinistas, and Fidel Castro is no successor of Harry Truman, John Kennedy or Bill Clinton; socially, because Sanders, like Trump, is a divider and inciter; and politically, because he cannot defeat Trump.How, then, did Sanders rise this high? Simple: the Democrats’ leaders never gathered to jointly and frankly assess their failure in 2016 and devise a plan to update their message and restore the voters’ faith. The result was the vacuum into which a radical, who was never really one of them, was sucked.The Democrats never realized that Trump’s victory was their defeat. Instead they lied to themselves that he was but an accident. That’s why they never began soul-searching; and that is why rather than read the message, they kept firing at the messenger.To recover, they would have all gone out to the social and geographic periphery that handed them their defeat, heard out its voters, and then collectively sought a candidate who would represent the pragmatism the people want, the sanity Trump mocks, and the electability that Sanders and the candidates he defeated all lack.Instead, the Democrats produced a collection of political zombies: one who heads a town the size of Beit Shemesh, another who vows to banish oil exports and forbid shale fracking, a third who would end all new oil and gas leases as well as offshore drilling, a fourth who promised to pay every citizen a monthly $1,000, and a fifth who vowed to nationalize healthcare at a cost of a weekly $1.61 per taxpayer.It was in this spirit of political alchemy, aloofness and escapism that the Democrats wielded impeachment, a tricky weapon whose manual says “Do not use if you are going to lose.” Yet if you are not prepared to spend your time probing your own mistakes and trekking to politically hostile realms, then impeachment, even if misused and in fact backfiring, becomes a logical course of action.This, then, is how the Democratic Party wasted the three years history gave it to restore its grip on mainstream America, and how it ended up with electoral nonstarters who would be eaten alive by Donald Trump should any of them end up facing him next fall.And if it isn’t them, then it will be Michael Bloomberg, whose résumé’s political part, three terms as mayor of New York, was launched as a Republican who later ran as an independent on the Republican ballot line, meaning that, while a liberal, he was never part of the Democratic establishment.That’s actually good.MICHAEL BLOOMBERG is good first and foremost because he is not a populist.The most frightening thing about Sanders’s prospective takeover of the Democratic Party is that it would be an inversion of Trump’s takeover of the GOP. Between them, these two demagogues embody the scourge of the era, the grandstanding, hollering and hoodwinking of the populism that has already spread from Brasilia to Manila through Budapest and Rome.Bloomberg will not be caught lashing out at “the bankers,” as Sanders does daily; not because they are all his former clients, but because he ran New York for a dozen years, including the year in which Wall Street’s financial pillars came tumbling down.Having seen money’s operation from the thick of both government and big business, he knows it better than any other candidate, and having built his wealth himself, as opposed to the wellborn Trump, Bloomberg outshines the economic Trump.Moreover, Bloomberg is the candidate of balance, a bookkeeper’s son who as mayor understood he must feel the city from below in order to run it from above, and therefore regularly rode the subway. A pragmatist, he backed in 2007 John McCain and Ted Kennedy’s immigration reform, he reduced New York’s gas emissions, he raised teachers’ pay, he supports gun control, and he backed Iraq’s invasion.An entrepreneur and billionaire, he turned New York’s $6 billion deficit into a $3b. surplus. In short, his record is the inversion of the populist Zeitgeist, and an emblem of the centrism the era now begs.Still, to defeat Trump, he must avoid Democratic overweight, and pick a Republican running mate – maybe Condoleezza Rice; or Mitt Romney; or Bob Corker, the former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who had the guts to charge Trump for “debasing” America; or Jeff Flake, the former Arizona senator who called Trump’s conduct “reckless, outrageous and undignified.”Yes, such a post-partisan ticket would be unprecedented, but it will win. Better yet, it will revive an impoverished political system, whose one party lost its mind, while the other lost its soul.www.MiddleIsrael.netThe writer’s best-selling Mitz’ad Ha’ivelet Hayehudi (The Jewish March of Folly, Yediot Sfarim, 2019) is a revisionist history of the Jewish people’s leadership from antiquity to modernity.
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