The world and the nation has watched in horror as Donald J. Trump has taken the United States down an increasingly isolationist path complete with healthy servings of racism and xenophobia. His disregard for the rule of law and his authoritarian nature—and that lack of repercussions for either—have made it clear that our nation’s system of checks and balances are broken.
Despite his bumbling buffoon act, Trump has remade the federal judiciary with one in every four circuit court judges being a Trump nominee and two of his picks sitting on the Supreme Court. To be honest, his presidency has been almost a complete victory for the right. In less than four years, he has reshaped the country and held a mirror to our faces and what many of us are seeing is not pretty.
In many ways, life in America has become a real-time version of the 2006 film Idiocracy.
Which is why, as we enter presidential primary season 2020, the stakes are feeling higher than ever. Can the republic be saved? Or should the American empire, built on stolen land with the labor of stolen people, die a slow and painful death?
For the majority of American voters, even those on the left, they just want to get back to normal or what passed for normal prior to 2016. Unfortunately, what used to pass for normal in this country was toxic and harmful for Black people, Indigenous people, other people of color (POC) and so many other marginalized groups. The American Dream was already a nightmare for us. Which is why many of us had the foresight to know that the odds of Trump winning were high and that we would be screwed.
However, no one listened to us then and apparently no one wants to listen to us now.
And by “no one” I mostly mean the white people—poor, working class and middle class—who are also being harmed (particularly economically) but haven’t been pushed all the way to the margins because the GOP needs their votes. Those people still see faces like theirs in most positions of power and prosperity and thus many of them continue to feel like the system mostly works. They haven’t caught on yet that it doesn’t work for them either; it’s just that they will be the last ones to get the boots on their necks when the system is done with the rest of us.
As of this writing, after the debacle with the Iowa caucuses, and with the New Hampshire primary finishing up, it looks like Bernie Sanders is emerging as the Democratic front-runner with South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg close to his heels. After existing in near anonymity with her Midwestern potato casserole, we have Amy Klobuchar rounding up the top three at the beginning of this primary cycle. We also have Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe “Corn Pop” Biden rounding up the rear. Yeah, I know we have a few other candidates but barring a miracle will we really be seeing much from Tulsi or Tom? And oh yes…I will be getting to Mike in a moment.
Mind you, neither Iowa nor New Hampshire are racially or ethnically representative of the Democratic party (or the country, for that matter) but for some reason, we still look to these two very white states to give us the pulse of things.
The next two states to have a voice will be Nevada, which uses the caucus system (hope they can get the results sooner than Iowa) and South Carolina. Both are states which are far more racially reflective of the country and both are states where large numbers of POC will cast their votes.
Which is where the former New York City mayor, Michael “Mike” Bloomberg, enters the picture. In case you have been unplugged, Mike is a really, really rich white man who used to be a Republican (and literally just switched to Democrat a hot second ago–opportunism, anyone?) and who as mayor of New York from 2002 to 2013 made life a living hell for Black folks and other POC.
In 2015, Bloomberg spoke at the Aspen Institute and said the following: “95% of your murders and murderers and murder victims fit one M.O. You can just take the description and Xerox it and pass it out to all the cops. They are male minorities 15 to 25.” You can read more about that speech here, as well as his thoughts on the controversial practice of stop-and-frisk. If you aren’t familiar with Bloomberg, you may also want to read some of his thoughts on redlining here.
So at this point, you are probably asking yourself, why is any of this relevant? Isn’t the goal to save ourselves from another four years of the orange monster? Well, yes and no.
See, the thing is that the Democratic National Committee decided that the usual rules needn’t apply to any wealthy folks who can self fund their campaigns. Meaning that under some changes, to participate in the February debate, candidates must earn at least 10 percent of voter support in four qualifying national polls, or 12 percent in two polls in Nevada or South Carolina. Alternatively, a candidate must earn at least one delegate from either Iowa or New Hampshire.
In layman’s terms, an uber-wealthy candidate can flood markets with advertising and pick up traction without doing any of the usual fundraising or getting to know the people. Meaning a self-funded billionaire candidate in particular can buy all types of visibility and go from people not knowing who they are to actually earning support from those people. In this case, Bloomberg—despite bypassing the work that all the other candidates have done—is polling well enough that he will be on the next debate stage. While his name is known to many as being the former mayor of New York City, what is lesser known is what happened during his time as mayor and the impact on marginalized communities like Black and other brown-skinned kids and young men. To be honest, as bad as it was, stop and frisk was merely one of the negative impacts. And that’s the problem.
Meanwhile, all the candidates of color have dropped out because they couldn’t raise the money to stay in the race. Andrew Yang was the last remaining candidate of color and he suspended his campaign after a dismal showing in New Hampshire.
Look, I know it’s been rough under Trump; I am a Black woman in America and I get it. But with the national media turning its eyes on Bloomberg and virtually anointing him as the front-runner, despite earning nary a delegate, is frightening at best.
Even the buzz around Bloomberg picking up Black votes feels disingenuous. It seems he is flooding Black markets with his ads and sadly the other candidates aren’t since—to be fair—they don’t have the same bottomless pockets that Bloomberg has. Even my teenager has come across his ads on her social media feeds.
A few hours of researching Bloomberg will show that he is no kind, benevolent guy. In fact, he in many ways is just a superficially nicer and better put-together version of the current occupant of the White House. Also savvier and smarter and better able to hide his prejudices, which might make him more dangerous. Is oligarchy really better than dictatorship? Are a collection of rich oppressive boots on your neck better than one violent, unhinged and gleefully cruel one?
At this moment, there is a rallying cry that no matter who the Democratic nominee is, we must support that person. I disagree. Regular readers can pick up on the fact that we here at BGIM Media are no fans of Pete Buttigieg. His record on race in South Bend, Ind., doesn’t impress me and that is after me being contacted this past summer by his then director of black engagement. But as much as I dislike him, if he were to get the nomination, I would probably hold my nose and vote for him.
However, Bloomberg is a rich man that plays by his own rules and has his own authoritarian leanings with a history of being anti-Black and misogynist, among many other unpleasant things. I am sorry, but as an anti-racist, I cannot support the nicer and more articulate version of Trump.
This country is at a real crossroads, and it will require courage to get back on track even with the old system, much less changing that already fundamentally flawed system to something better. We cannot shortcut ourselves to an equitable and just nation. We cannot allow fear to be our guiding principle. Sometimes, change means that things will have to get really bad before we get to a better place.
There is a new breed of politician rising up in this country and they don’t care about the little people. They aren’t interested in being of service to the people. They want a new shiny toy to be in control of. The American people are their new toys. All of them, not just marginalized communities.
After the past several years, we should know that and be ready to stand up for what is right, not what is expedient. We shouldn’t let “electable” be our guiding star, we should let our shared desires for a healthy nation that leaves no nation behind to be our North Star.
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