It’s all part of Bloomberg’s definition of political independence, which is shaped by his unusual status as a multibillionaire. Witness his contributions to the four (endangered) Republican state senators in New York who provided crucial support for same-sex marriage, which Bloomberg backed; or, for that matter, his subsidies to Republicans who let him run for reelection on their line, even after he abandoned the party.
Bloomberg in effect operates as his own party, rewarding principled acts of rebellion with his own considerable resources. For this Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent, whose national policy pronouncements are usually pox-on-both-houses denunciations of Washington, overarching party goals are beside the point.
“Both candidates for president should speak out” about gun control, Bloomberg remonstrated as he stood in a police surveillance center in downtown Manhattan on Wednesday. As dozens of video panels showed footage of the city’s streets and data such as “Bronx: Shots/Fired” streamed behind him, he asserted, “This is one of the great national problems that we have. People are dying.”
Bloomberg is a data-driven despot who denounces soda, directs hospitals to hide infant formula because it could distract new mothers from breast-feeding, and defends Chick-fil-A and the so-called 9/11 mosque. In his mind, supporting a general opponent of gun control who came through for him on one critical measure is not inconsistent or hypocritical. It’s good business.
But does the Bloomberg method work?
As exhibit A, Bloomberg has pointed to the influence he was able to exert as the largest donor to the state’s Republican caucus in persuading some critical state GOP lawmakers to back his goal of legalizing same-sex marriage.
After explaining his support for Brown, he said, “I did exactly the same thing with some Republicans that stood up for gay marriage.”
But those same Republican state senators have also blocked key gun control legislation that he supports, perplexing advocates of gun control who think the most effective way to achieve their mission is to elect more Democrats.
New York state Sen. Michael Gianaris, while laudatory of Bloomberg’s efforts to combat gun violence, said, “I cannot speak to why he chooses to support Republicans who are at odds with his policy initiatives.”