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Micah on Bloomberg

Micah Sifry, trenchant as always, in The Nation says Bloomberg can influence the election just by looking like he might run. Says Micah:

Merely by toying with a run, Bloomberg—who registered between 10 and 15 percent in the polls after he announced his change of party—can force the major candidates to pay attention to issues dear to his heart. Fortunately, many of them are sensible, like gun control, progressive immigration reform, reducing carbon emissions, trying new ways to break the poverty cycle and transparency in government. Even though he trampled civil rights when the Republican convention was held in New York City, and his police force continues to take an authoritarian approach toward free speech and assembly, Bloomberg has tried to calm, not fan, fears of terrorism. We could do a lot worse, given how many megalomaniacal billionaires this country seems to produce.

Despite some alignment on the issues, Micah regrets that Bloomberg is ignoring the “sideways-up” organizing:

Yes, the blogs are talking about Bloomberg today, but he’s talking at us, not with us. He may have made his money selling high-priced computer terminals and data, but his approach to technology and the Internet is all top-down. His vaunted “311” universal phone number has indeed improved city services, but the communication is all one way. In 2001 Bloomberg capped his $74 million campaign by mailing a videotape of his final campaign commercial to every household; in 2005 his re-election campaign had the best micro-targeting database services that money could buy. If anything, his entry onto the edge of the playing field will further accelerate the presidential money chase, giving an advantage to buckmeisters like Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney over other contenders, putting serious pressure on Obama and draining funds from down-ballot candidates as a side effect.

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