Issues are important. Ideology is important. But, over and above these two concerns, the most important matter come November is what candidate can beat Donald Trump for the presidency.
I am endorsing Mike Bloomberg for President for many substantive reasons, as I list below. However, I have chosen to support him first and foremost because I believe he is the only candidate (among many outstanding candidates) who can beat Trump and begin to reject Trumpism from the body politic.
The state of our democracy, the issues of climate, guns, healthcare, a livable minimum wage, criminal justice reform, immigration reform, education, a women’s right to choose, justice for black, brown, and immigrant communities, the advance of science, knowledge, and technology, the respect for facts and truth-telling, a sane foreign policy that restores America’s alliances, the return to the Iran Nuclear Agreement and the Paris Climate Accord, among other things all are at stake in this election.
Thomas Friedman’s column Paging Michael Bloomberg – Democrats need to nominate the right person to prevent Trump from winning a second term – https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/11/opinion/bloomberg-president-2020.html is must reading.
In ways no other candidate does, Mike Bloomberg inspires confidence in his executive abilities. He has a proven track record as a successful businessman who created from nothing a massive company of 20,000 employees and served three terms as Mayor of New York City, the largest and most diverse city in America.
As Mayor his accomplishments are extensive. He reduced incarceration by 40% and juvenile confinement by more than 60%. He brought down the rates of domestic violence. He narrowed the black-white achievement gap by 23%. He increased affordable housing. He reduced the number of uninsured New Yorkers by nearly 50%. He achieved NYC’s cleanest air quality in 50 years. He persuaded NY State Republicans to pass marriage equality. He was the first to officiate at a same gender marriage.
As a philanthropist, Bloomberg helped close half the nation’s dirty coal plants. He took on big tobacco and led the charge to cut teen smoking in half. He protected a woman’s right to choose and wrote a quarter-million dollar check to Planned Parenthood when it had a shortfall. He took on the NRA with Mayors Against Illegal Guns and then Every town for Gun Safety — a grassroots coalition that made the difference in turning so many states blue in the recent midterms. He contributed more money to black female candidates in the 2018 U.S. midterm elections than any individual. His Young Men’s Initiative helped black and Latino youth with education, employment, and health care and became the model for President Obama’s national program, My Brother’s Keeper.
I had two concerns about Bloomberg, both of which have been put to rest. First, he is doing teshuvah (repentance) concerning his stop and frisk policy as Mayor. It’s important to understand that he turned to that policy after being approached by black and brown mothers begging him to do something about gun violence in their New York communities. He reduced the murder rate in NYC dramatically due to this policy. But his policy was a blanket brush stroke against all black and brown young men and therefore grossly unfair and racist. He has been apologizing for the hurt he caused and has been meeting — away from any cameras — with black pastors, mayors, and New Yorkers, listening to their stories, their pain, and to their recommendations. Last week, after a meeting with thirty African-American Christian clergy, they issued the following statement:
“While Donald Trump was calling Mike Bloomberg a racist, Mike was continuing his conversation with African-American clergy from around the country. He expressed regret over his past insensitivity regarding policies like stop and frisk, and showed a continued interest in restorative justice. To be clear: None of us believe that Mike Bloomberg is a racist. Actions speak louder than words, and Mike has a long record of fighting for equality, civil rights, and criminal justice reform.”
The black mayors supporting Bloomberg include Houston’s Sylvester Turner, Philadelphia’s former Mayor Michael Nutter, and Columbia South Carolina’s Steve Benjamin. They helped shape and support the policy Bloomberg rolled out last month called the “Greenwood Initiative” devoted to growing black-American generational wealth.
Bloomberg is committed to creating one million new black homeowners, seeding 100,000 black businesses, giving $70 billion to neighborhoods that need it most.
Look at Bloomberg’s website (www.mikebloomberg.com) and see his plans to give law-abiding immigrants a path to citizenship, to give uninsured Americans a path to healthcare, veterans a path to job training, and those who have worked in fossil fuel industries a path to be part of the clean energy economy.
Bloomberg’s commitment to Israel’s security is long-term. He celebrates its achievements in agriculture, science, and technology, donates to its institutions, and visits often. He believes in a two-state strategy to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that includes Palestinians with Israel in negotiations, and he cautions against decisions that make that goal harder (i.e. annexation and settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank). He has no tolerance for making U.S. military aid conditional, no tolerance for anti-Semitism whether it’s on the streets of Charlottesville or the campus of a university. Bloomberg believes that Holocaust education is essential to keep history alive and make those lessons urgent. In 2014, he jumped on an El Al flight to Tel Aviv when the FAA grounded planes into Ben Gurion airport during the Gaza war, and last month he renounced Trump’s absurd and dangerous charge that one can’t be both pro-Israel and a Democrat.
The other issue that was of concern to me has also been addressed; namely, his vulgar expressions about women and the 40 lawsuits settled over a period of 40 years in his company of 20,000 employees. Bloomberg apologized for his comments more than once. He has never been, however, a sexual predator like the man in the White House. I know two of his female staff. They are both strong feminists and would never work for a man they didn’t believe was trustworthy. Their advocacy for him is good enough for me.
I thank Abby Pogrebin, Mike Bloomberg’s national Jewish liaison, for providing me with some of the above, and Danielle Berrin, formerly a journalist with the Los Angeles Jewish Journal and now the California liaison to the Jewish community, for addressing my deepest concerns.
In sum, we cannot afford to lose this next election to Trump and we cannot afford to allow the Senate to remain in the do-nothing Republican Senate’s hands. I have confidence that Mike Bloomberg can be successful in defeating Trump and changing the Senate into Democratic hands.
Per Thomas Friedman, Mike Bloomberg is as “tough as a rattlesnake.” Those who know him say he is as decent and moral to his core as we would ever want in a President. This is why I endorse him wholeheartedly and believe that he is the only candidate that can defeat Trump in November.