On February 12th at 7 p.m. I found myself standing in the middle of several hundred people at Rocket Town, a concert hall in Nashville, Tennessee, waiting for Michael Bloomberg to make his way to the stage. I am not particularly a fan of Michael Bloomberg because he is an establishment billionaire who has straddled both sides of the political aisle. His politically advantageous decision-making approach to politics turns people like me away because we do not want to sacrifice our morality to win an election. Having said that, I wanted to give him a chance to win me over.
Sadly, the rally left me wanting.
What truly made this rally a disappointment to me was not Bloomberg, but those that came to see him. The lack of diversity in the room was my first red flag. Out of 500 plus people at the venue there may have been ten non-white people in the room. The second red flag was the fact that there was little class diversity in the room as well. With the majority of people there being in the upper-middle class and above. Further compounding my disappointment in Bloomberg’s supporters was the fact that those upper-class whites in the crowd could only muster a light awkward round of applause when Bloomberg said that “we must raise taxes on the 1% in order to fight income inequality.” And making things worse the crowd was infuriatingly silent when a local DACA recipient opened up the rally with a speech about the need to give undocumented dreamers a true path to citizenship.
I walked out of Rocket Town with a singular thought: I am not quite sure this should be the guy. We cannot leave these upper-class white Christians clinging to the hope that they can remain the sole holders of power in this country. It is time to evolve and that means discounting what normally would have been a decent left of center Democratic candidate.
I hated the fact that at the end of the night that that thought was the one that kept repeating itself in my head. I hated that repeating thought because I know that if I had not been in the crowd I probably would have been more impressed with Bloomberg. On any other night or setting I would have been cheering as he called for an increase in teachers’ pay, as he called for a continued fight to protect women’s right to have autonomy over their body, as he promised to fight for the rights of undocumented immigrants, as he addressed the importance for those that enrich themselves off the labor of others and as he promised to extend access to medical care to everyone.
But alas I remained disappointed. I remained disappointed because I know that if a large group of rich white people are standing in support of a candidate they know that that candidate is not a threat to their way of life and privilege. Finally, I remained disappointed because Mike, while saying a lot of things I agree with and looking extremely presidential, just lacked the charisma to make me care.
Listen, at the end of the day even as a Bernie Bro, I will vote for whoever the Democratic candidate is. I would even go as far to say that of the moderate candidates Bloomberg is the least offensive of lot, the bar is set low, but the point remains that after listening to Bloomberg speak in person I trust him to fight the NRA and extend Medicare coverage to those who want more than I trust Mayor Pete or Klobuchar to do the same.
But we shouldn’t settle for Mike this early in the game. Just because the establishment wing wants those of on the left to give up and admit defeat before the battle even begins, we must not. This election isn’t just about removing Trump for office its about reclaiming the moral compass of our country.
So, to Michael Bloomberg I say this: I am sure you heart is in the right place, but I doubt the heart of those that were in the crowd with me were. You may very well be a good candidate, but you are not the candidate that America needs.
Photo © Audie Wood