While most pundits and media outlets have focused on the fact that Michael Bloomberg was, during the Nevada Democrat debate, hammered by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) on issues of sexism, Bloomberg, in turn, called out Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT-I) on his communist-like policies: the elephant in the room about which none of the other contenders are willing to talk.
By spending hundreds of millions of dollars on campaign ads, Bloomberg was able to buy his way onto the debate stage in Nevada. A national poll found the billionaire in second place – at 19% – behind Sanders, at 31%. The other candidates saw Bloomberg as their primary target, using some of their favorite slurs against him: racist, sexist, and oligarch.
Bernie’s Human Shield
The attacks were effective. Bloomberg came off like a wounded animal. Most pundits agreed that he was hurt significantly on issues valued by many Democrats. Whether it will be enough to knock him out of the race remains to be seen, but one thing is sure: All the time devoted to attacking Bloomberg was not spent criticizing the frontrunner, Bernie Sanders.
Given that Bloomberg was not even on the ballot in the Nevada caucus, it was a wasted opportunity for the rest of the field to pull him down. Ironically, by entering the debate, Bloomberg indirectly helped Sanders.
Bernie the Bolshevik
Paradoxically, the former New York mayor was also the only contender who attacked Sanders on his greatest weakness: A socialist has little chance of becoming president – at least, for now. He was able to get across the crucial message that only a moderate candidate would have any chance of winning against President Donald Trump.
A pivotal moment in the debate was Sanders challenging if Bloomberg would let workers sit on the board of directors for his companies, to which he responded that “we’re not going to throw out capitalism. We tried that. Other countries tried that. It was called communism, and it just didn’t work.”
Bloomberg, thereby, forcefully reminded the voters that Sanders does not stand for the Scandinavian model. No Scandinavian country is built on Soviet-style worker-run cooperatives. They are all capitalist countries that score higher, on most measures of economic freedom, than America.
Sanders indirectly admitted that he wants Cuban or Venezuelan style socialism. If the other contenders had hammered on this point repeatedly, he would likely not be doing so well in the polls. He is selling fiction and meets no real resistance, except for Bloomberg.
To make things even more confusing, Trump is the one who is closest to the Scandinavian model. The unions have used their considerable power to curb immigration of cheap labor from poor countries, which they call “social dumping.”
Bloomberg or Sanders?
Despite the poor performance in the Nevada debate, Bloomberg may suffer less in the polls than pundits expect. In 2016, Republicans so desperately wanted a candidate who was outside the swamp that they chose Trump. The silent majority of Democrats could be equally desperate about electing a moderate that can beat Trump in the general election. Therefore, keep an eye on Bloomberg. If he keeps rising in the polls despite Warren’s brutally effective character assassination, it would be an indicator of just how panicked Democrats are.
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