Nov 26, 2019

Bloomberg's 2020 run is a test of America's entrepreneurial aspirations

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Michael Bloomberg's entry into the 2020 presidential race was reflexively roasted in certain quarters as little more than a billionaire trying to buy an election — or, in the more succinct words of Anand Giridharadas, "plutes gonna plute."

Between the lines: What gets lost in between aren't the specifics of Bloomberg's record, or if he'd make a better or worse president than his rivals. It's the intrinsic value of entrepreneurship, and if that remains an aspirational touchstone for American voters.

The state of play: This was an issue raised by Sen. Cory Booker during the last week's presidential debate, when he argued that Democrats are doing themselves a disservice if they talk about taxing wealth to the exclusion of talking about creating wealth.

  • Those comments were directed at Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who repeatedly ignored the dichotomy — instead responding only with more detail about her wealth tax proposal.
  • Other than Booker, no one on stage mentioned "small business" or "entrepreneurs."

The big picture: Bloomberg, as one of America's most successful living entrepreneurs, has created and amassed a lot of wealth. More than any man could spend in his lifetime, and perhaps more than he could responsibly give away.

  • There should be a thorough accounting of how he made his money, and how it affected others along the way.
  • If there are legitimate criticisms, let 'em fly. Just as they should for any other part of his professional and personal conduct, in both the private and public sectors.
  • And there is certainly value in a robust debate over the future viability of plutocracy in America, including the idea of taxing wealth (as opposed to only taxing income).

Yes, but: Dismissing a candidate's validity because he was a very successful entrepreneur feels like something new in our politics and in our culture. A deliberate mildewing of the American Dream.

  • Of course it's unlikely that Bloomberg will become president. He has loads of unrelated liabilities. Let alone a very late start.
  • If he does indeed falter, though, pay close attention to the post-game analysis. Was it all of those other reasons, or because enough Americans have concluded that successful entrepreneurship has become a vice instead of virtue?

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 3 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8:30 p.m. ET: 5,919,364— Total deaths: 364,459 — Total recoveries — 2,490,221Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8:30 p.m. ET: 1,745,606 — Total deaths: 102,798 — Total recoveries: 406,446 — Total tested: 16,099,515Map.
  3. Public health: Hydroxychloroquine prescription fills exploded in March —How the U.S. might distribute a vaccine.
  4. 2020: North Carolina asks RNC if convention will honor Trump's wish for no masks or social distancing.
  5. Business: Fed chair Powell says coronavirus is "great increaser" of income inequality.
  6. 1 sports thing: NCAA outlines plan to get athletes back to campus.

Zuckerberg says Trump’s “shooting” tweet didn’t violate Facebook’s rules

Mark Zuckerberg at the 56th Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany on February 15. Photo: Abdulhamid Hosbas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Facebook did not remove President Trump's threat to send the National Guard to Minneapolis because the company's policy on inciting violence allows discussion on state use of force, CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained in a post on Friday.

The big picture: Zuckerberg's statement comes on the heels of leaked internal criticism from Facebook employees over how the company handled Trump's posts about the Minneapolis protests and his unsubstantiated claims on mail-in ballots — both of which Twitter has now taken action on.

Trump says he spoke with George Floyd's family

President Trump in the Rose Garden on May 29. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump told reporters on Friday that he had spoken with the family of George Floyd, a black resident of Minneapolis who died after a police officer knelt on his neck on Monday.

Driving the news: Former Vice President Joe Biden said via livestream a few hours earlier that he, too, had spoken with Floyd's family. The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee implored white Americans to consider systemic injustices against African Americans more broadly, Axios' Alexi McCammond reports.