Many in the media and political class see Donald Trump as the face of America’s autocratic future. They’ve had less to say about Michael Bloomberg, a far more successful billionaire with the smarts, motivation, and elitist mentality not only to propose but actually carry out his own deeply authoritarian vision should he be elected president.
Bloomberg, who’s quickly moved up in national polls on an unprecedented tsunami of spending and despite sitting out the Democratic debates, represents, in a way never seen in modern American politics, the melding of oligarchal power with political willfulness. His campaign remains a wild long shot, but ask New York City how that can play out—and how difficult it is to dislodge this oligarch once he’s in office, even when the law demands that he leave.
Compared to Bloomberg, Trump’s estimated $3 billion fortune is paltry. Bloomberg is the world’s ninth richest man, with a fortune of nearly $60 billion. The two post-retirement-age party-jumpers share not only flimsy medical excuses for staying out of Vietnam, long histories of locker-room talk, and joint refusals to fully disclose their taxes while running or to step away from their private business interests while serving in public office but, perhaps most fundamentally, a habit of naming things after themselves and a narcissistic sense that common rules don’t apply to them.