A Tale of Two New York Billionaires

Both Donald Trump and Michael Bloomberg are Manhattan billionaires, but they share little else in common.

This week, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent and former Republican, will endorse Hillary Clinton and speak at the Democratic National Convention. Though they are from different political parties, Bloomberg and Clinton are both strategic and methodical enough to realize that voters want politicians to reach across the aisle.

Donald Trump, by contrast, suffered a blow when fellow Republican and former rival Ted Cruz (R-Texas) did not endorse him at the Republican National Convention. Pundits claim that Cruz was still angry that Trump had, during the primary, strongly implied that Cruz’s wife is ugly and Cruz’s father associated with President John F. Kennedy’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald.

On July 19, hundreds in Atlanta chose to attend the annual Eizenstat Lecture, delivered by Michael Bloomberg, rather than tune in to watch Day 2 of the RNC. Many of the many disaffected voters in the room seemed to find Bloomberg far more rational and professional than Donald Trump.

In style and substance, Michael Bloomberg has demonstrated a more thorough and consistent approach than Trump.

Of Bloomberg’s tenure, The New York Times editorial board wrote in 2013, “The crime rate is down, the transportation system is more efficient, the environment is cleaner.”

During his three term tenure as mayor, from January 2002 to December 2013, Bloomberg aggressively re-structured many facets of city government, from the 911 call system to the school system. His bold moves garnered criticism, but Bloomberg met the press in lively news conferences to explain his rationale. Even Bloomberg’s opponents acknowledged his data-driven, systematic process of governance.

Trump, by contrast, has used Twitter to insult his many enemies, calling them “bimbo” and “pocohontas.”

Bloomberg’s public smoking ban and proposed ban on large sodas led some to call him a micromanager. But at least these critics acknowledge that the mayor was capable of managing.

By contrast, Trump has caused a series of preventable PR crises, from re-tweeting white supremacists to saying of Republican Senator John McCain, “He’s not a war hero…I like people who weren’t captured.”

Whereas some of Trump’s businesses have gone bankrupt, Michael Bloomberg left New York City a $2.4 billion budget surplus.

Donald Trump proposed a temporary immigration ban on Muslims, while Bloomberg Philanthropies supports a wide array of individuals in need. The not-for-profit organization recently funded Data for Health, a $100 million program to improve health data in developing nations.

Bloomberg received a great deal of criticism for his stop-and-frisk policy, which I believe unfairly profiled minority males. Bloomberg is, however, able to (weakly) argue his stance using data. He claims any profiling was incidental and that the policy led to a lower rate of violent crime in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

By contrast, Donald Trump heatedly called Mexican immigrants rapists in his campaign announcement speech, with no evidence. When a media firestorm ensued, Trump doubled-down on his earlier remarks and, without clear reason, refused to apologize. Adults accustomed to election gaffes — from watch-checking to audibly sighing — were baffled. What type of person does this? Even Nixon was capable of constructing rational arguments in defense of his failed policies. Despite his personal issues, Nixon was able to adopt a façade and successfully debate Khruschev. But what type of person, politician or not, opens their mouth on a stage and spews such bile with such gusto?

Maybe poll numbers went up, but surely this is not a path to success?

Hillary Clinton and the DNC chose wisely in allying themselves with Bloomberg, who bucks the party line but shares Clinton’s high level of maturity.

In 1787, James Madison wrote in Federalist 10, “A zeal for different opinions…concerning government…as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power…have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good.”

So partisanship is nothing new. Neither are tense elections. Machiavelli wrote about the quest for power in The Prince. Even the great James Madison slung mud against Alexander Hamilton.

But Trump’s petulant, manipulative, hollow gimmicks make a mockery of our electoral process. In the place of ideas, policies, and vision, he has personally attacked his opponents and played the American electorate for fools. The positions Mr. Trump does hold are inconsistent, and his only values system seems to be expedience. But expedience to what end?

This story "A Tale of Two New York Billionaires" was written by Jordan Barkin.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

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