The myth of Bloomberg’s political influence

Now that Michael Bloomberg is suspending his ill-fated presidential campaign and will get behind zombie candidate Joe Biden, I am seeing a lot of this:

Bloomberg spent at least half a billion dollars on his campaign, which was mostly an advertising blitz. The only thing he has to show for it is he won American Samoa. Why does anyone think Bloomberg spending that much on Biden’s campaign will help Biden?

Bloomberg’s big mistake was that he showed up for a debate and the people who somehow did not know who Bloomberg was and what he was like as a human being were able to see it for the first time. In one event, the difference between the Bloomberg in the relentless ads and the Bloomberg of real life was undeniable.

That lesson is relevant to Biden’s campaign too. You can run all the shopped advertisements you want, the moment Biden surfaces in public he’s obviously senile. There are non-stop videos on social media of his senior moments, many of which have several million views. The general population is not as eager to believe in a Weekend at Bernie’s candidate as the Establishment Democrats’ base. (Egad, it’s hard to make a Weekend at Bernie’s joke about Biden when he’s running against a guy named Bernie. But how else do you describe it?) And this is the situation before Trump and his various super-PACs start making “senile Joe” ubiquitous. Trump doesn’t even have to spend a dime to accomplish that, either. All he has to do is start tweeting about it.

No matter how much the media tries to conceal the flaws of establishment candidates, they cannot stop them from being part of the conversation.

Money doesn’t buy elections anymore, and that’s a good thing. To me, the only thing fundraising in elections is good for is a gauge of public support. The earliest pieces of evidence that Bernie and Trump had strong followings were the millions of small-dollar donations they were amassing even as the media tried and tried and tried to tear them down. A billionaire donor, however, does not get to vote a billion times. All they can do is attempt to persuade or fool people, and that’s hard to do in an era where candidates are constantly being recorded.

Biden’s an objectively terrible candidate running against The Greatest Showman on Earth, and no amount of advertising is going to erase that. Bloomberg is a lot less relevant to our political discourse than the establishment thinks.

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