David Dinkins was the first and as yet only Black mayor in New York City history. His one term ended when he was defeated by Rudolph Giuliani in 1993.
Giuliani represented the most racist and retrograde constituency in New York. Black New Yorkers responded to the defeat with shock and horror. The first Black office holder was unseated by an overt racist who among other things had encouraged a police protest and near-riot against Dinkins.
It couldn’t get worse
Black New Yorkers were convinced that no one could be worse for them than Giuliani. When he left office, he was dubbed “America’s Mayor” in the wake of the September 11 attacks. He was popular enough to have won again, but term limits prevented him from running.
His surprise successor was Michael Bloomberg. Black people breathed a collective sigh of relief to see anyone but Giuliani in City Hall.
Billionaire Bloomberg was a lifelong Democrat who ran as a Republican in order to avoid a Democratic primary that he feared losing. He won with the help of his bottomless pit of campaign money, but antipathy to Giuliani was so strong that the rich Republican faced less pushback from the Black community than one might expect.
Bloomberg ran as a Republican, but he made friends with the right Black people. While Giuliani refused to meet Al Sharpton, the shrewd and wealthy Bloomberg made a great show of their public interactions and sealed the deal with generous donations to the National Action Network. Sharpton was silent or supportive of Bloomberg throughout his three terms in office.
It did get worse
But Bloomberg unleashed the police in ways that Giuliani only dreamed of doing. His notorious stop-and-frisk policy victimized Black New Yorkers millions of times. The pressure to make arrests was severe. Police no longer had discretion and were penalized if they didn’t arrest every Black person who encountered law enforcement.
The man who looked like a savior was instead a nightmare for Black people. But he isn’t always seen that way. The fear of the open racists like Giuliani and Donald Trump evokes deep anxiety, but the smooth and slick practitioners like Bloomberg can do much greater harm.
Bought another term
New Yorkers voted for a two-term limit for city officials. Bloomberg used his clout first with the other wealthy people who control the media. The millionaire owners of the New York Times, New York Post and New York Daily News were consulted first. They fell into line and gave editorial approval of an additional third term to Bloomberg and other city officials.
The plot was very unpopular with people whose intentions had been subverted. Most New Yorkers were opposed to experiencing Bloomberg for the third time.
The Black comptroller William Thompson was the sacrificial lamb and rival for the third race. Bloomberg bought off the best political talent and spared no expense. He convinced Thompson that he had no chance, and Democratic president Barack Obama did not endorse or help him in any way.
Very late in the campaign, Thompson realized that polls showed him pulling even, and he made a last-ditch effort to do what he should have done all year. He came close, but Michael Bloomberg won his third term.
It’s happening again
Bloomberg still has the right influential people in his pocket. The media will endorse him. He has already bought off the Democratic National Committee and EMILY’s List. We can expect a repeat of what he accomplished when he used his influence to get an additional term in office. Trump has no such leverage.
Black elected officials are endorsing Bloomberg already. They will be silent when he subjects the entire country to stop-and-frisk or some other horrible plan. Sharpton is already defending him and the Black pundits with blue checks on Twitter are following right along, advising forgiveness and claiming that Bloomberg can defeat Trump.
There is no proof that this is so. In addition, past history tells us that Bloomberg is a Trump with more money and better manners.
A control freak
Yet his entrance into the race is proof that the billionaires will give up nothing. Of course they can afford to pay higher taxes. But they don’t want to. They don’t want to give up any control of the populace or the political process. They have worked hard to buy off both parties, and they don’t intend to give up now that they have cemented their power.
Bloomberg’s campaign is a declaration. He has cut out the middle man of check-bundling and political action committee formations. He is willing to be the face of the super-rich who cause so much suffering.
The fact that so many Black elected officials have surrendered so quickly is a bad omen. As president, Bloomberg would have his way with cheap crooks like Sharpton and mayors and congresspeople, too.
Trump is much like his friend and defense attorney, Giuliani. He goes out of his way to offend and create enemies.
Throws money around
Bloomberg doesn’t have enemies because he buys them off. He is even paying off political operatives and depriving campaigns all over the country of experienced staffers. We already live under billionaire rule. Bloomberg in office or even as kingmaker will prove to be worse for Black people than a Trump presidency ever could be.
The reason for this conclusion is simple and very sad. Black politics is dead. Black politicians want it that way and a sugar-daddy billionaire will suit them just fine; the people be damned.
The error of treating Trump like an aberration is now evident. In New York City, it was possible to have a worse mayor than Giuliani. In the nation, it is possible to have a worse president than Trump. Michael Bloomberg fits that description.