Michael Bloomberg made a messy splash during his first and second debates. He seemed redundant and unprepared for the onslaught he received from his political rivals. He bumbled through his responses to criticisms and questions.
In many ways it seems Bloomberg expected to walk in and have everyone thank him for being the future president. He quickly discovered that it isn’t that easy. However, would Bloomberg be an effective president? Well, it’s complicated.
There’s no denying his effectiveness. If you can say anything about Bloomberg, he gets things done. As mayor of New York City, he shaped the city into his image. He effectively shifted, and shaped whole neighborhoods to execute his ideas.
Under Bloomberg, 40% of the city was rezoned, and old disused factories and harbor buildings were turned into luxury apartments and nice neighborhoods. His administration built 40,000 buildings in the city and created iconic structures like the High Line. He cut murders by 65% and shootings by 53% in his 12-year tenure. It’s no exaggeration to say he helped pull New York City out of economic decline after 9/11, in the end giving the city a $2 billion surplus.
However, it’s not all high-rises and pretty suburban townhouses for Bloomberg: in many ways he has a very unpleasant legacy. His “stop and frisk” policy in NYC was incredibly controversial. In 12 years 5,081,689 people were frisked; in all precincts Latinx and Black citizens made up 50% of that number; in 32 precincts, they made up more than 90%.
This was exacerbated by the fact that there is a frankly bigoted audio clip, in which Bloomberg says “95% of murders, murderers and murder victims fit one MO. You can just take a description, Xerox it and pass it out to all the cops. They are male, minorities, 16-25.” He also has a long history of sexist comments and behavior in the offices where he’s worked, including an allegation that during a colleague’s wedding he asked his female employees to perform oral sex as a wedding present.
This Bloomberg does not deserve to be in the running race. He came in late and is using his wealth to get himself in debates and flood the airwaves with political messaging. He’s spending millions to convince American voters that he’s the right choice and can beat Donald Trump. He may be able to, but only because he’s the Democratic mirror of him; a proud, misogynistic, prejudiced billionaire who thinks he can throw money at his problems to make them disappear. Well, the presidency is more elusive than that: time will tell if Bloomberg can grow out of his image and rise as the race’s frontrunner.