Bernie vs. Bored Billionaires

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Bernie

Why are Bernie Sanders and Michael Bloomberg, and why was Tom Steyer running for president? A more appropriate question might be: Why doesn’t Bernie learn from his past failures, and Bloomberg and Steyer their successes?

Aside from various degrees of progressive extremism, the only thing that unites the three is their various degrees of Democratic Party outsider statuses. This is the second time Bernie is running for the nomination of a party he is not a member of. Bloomberg was a lifelong Democrat, but ran for Mayor of New York City as a Republican, then for reelection as an independent. He’s a Democrat again now, and you’d be a fool to think it was for anything other than political expediency. This was Steyer’s first run for office; he’s been content to be the party’s biggest donor so it makes total and complete sense that one of his pet issues is campaign finance reform.

Elections are all Bernie knows. He’s been losing and winning them since 1972. Just as you can’t describe water to a fish, you can’t describe campaigning to Bernie. Bernie’s a lifer and he ain’t going away until Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez delivers him before a tribunal to question his commitment to the Revolution.

His legislative career in Washington D.C. has been unremarkable. Very few of his pet projects make it out of committee. Bernie may take the initiative, but thankfully his initiatives just won’t take. This is a blessing as the effects of Bernie’s proposed spending packages alone would render the dream and opportunity from America, to say nothing of his dream to confiscate and control the creation of wealth to pay for his pie in the sky entitlements.

Bernie’s been a statewide household name in Vermont since the 1980s, and a nationwide one since 2016. He’s a walking, talking self-caricature that the nation is on a first name basis with him. Most political-minded Americans are not ideologically compatible with him, but he’s got the name recognition (which was the only real bona fide of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump last go around) so he may as well run again.

Bernie’s not just some kvetching Jew. He’s consistent in the content of his constant complaining. He’s not playing with a full deck; even his supporters would acknowledge that. In fact, like Ron Paul, it’s one of his most attractive qualities. But, if you feel “the system is rigged” then you should champion an actual outsider like Bernie, rather than his kinda sorta fellow traveler Senator Elizabeth Warren.

It takes sheer tyranny of will to grab the public’s attention in a way to deliver votes. You know when Bernie is in the room; he’s the wild-eyed, wild-haired epicenter people are either fleeing from or transfixed by.

Most people couldn’t pick Steyer out of a lineup, and Bloomberg has the personal charisma of a Bosc pear.

I can understand Bernie advocating a political revolution as a means to his ends, as politics is all he knows. He’s never produced anything of value for the market. What’s baffling is that Bloomberg and Steyer also want to use government to impose the changes they believe America needs.

Why don’t the billionaires invent something that will do what they want? Why go this circuitous route of using government to impose it? Why doesn’t Steyer invest in clean energy R&D? Why doesn’t he team up with Elon Musk? Why doesn’t Bloomberg privately fund a gun buyback program and destroy whatever firearms he would collect?

They’ve been successful in the realm that involves voluntary exchange. Why don’t they learn from their own success and continue to pursue the change they desire through these methods? Why do they think involuntary involvement will be more successful than voluntary? Are they somehow unaware of the grinding change replete with unintended consequences the federal government delivers? They prefer that to the efficiency of the market? Bloomberg and Steyer have had great success in the private sector. Why do they want to enter the public one? To prove they can master it as well?

Success in one doesn’t translate to success in the other. Nobody could play basketball like Michael Jordan, but very many baseball players were his equal or better.

I question the motivations of people who pursue methods counter to the ones that they have previously been highly successful using. There must be several avenues for Bloomberg and Steyer to use the private sector and free(ish) market to achieve their aims. They didn’t become rich as Medici because they were bereft of effective ideas.

Steyer has since suspended his campaign following disappointing results in South Carolina, and with Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg following suit and endorsing Joe Biden to put the kibosh on Sanders. Bloomberg’s annoying ads have made him a meme. His fortune is not buying him traction.

OpenSecrets.org reports Steyer has spent almost 253 million dollars, and that’s just as of January 31. Bloomberg has spent over 409 million. Has this money been well-spent? Couldn’t that dough have been committed to more productive purposes to achieve the desired outcomes of their pet projects?

There’s a remarkable difference between conquering a market with a superior product or service and conquering a country by political campaign. It takes very little to convince an individual that he’s better off having shelter, clothes, food, a car and cell phone than having cash in his pocket. The former involves a straightforward exchange of money, but the latter requires something much less tangible: a leap of faith.

Successful politicians don’t so much buy votes as they do sell confidence in themselves. Two things contribute mightily to the success of an election campaign: the suspension of disbelief that a politician can actually elevate you to a station much higher than the one you presently occupy, and, to quote President Barack Obama, the candidate convincing the electorate, “I actually believe my own bullshit.”

I hope, for the mental health of we citizens of voting age, we need not suffer through too many primaries and caucuses to learn if Bernie’s strident advocacy of his ideology and integrity is a stronger currency than the USD Bloomberg and Steyer are willing to spend.

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Dillon Eliassen is a former Managing Editor of Being Libertarian. Dillon works in the sales department of a privately owned small company. He holds a BA in Journalism & Creative Writing from Lyndon State College, and needs only to complete his thesis for his Master’s of English from Montclair State University (something which his accomplished and beautiful wife, Alice, is continually pestering him about). He is the author of The Apathetic, available at Amazon.com. He is a self-described Thoreauvian Minarchist.

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