The incumbent mayor of New York City, opposed by Democrat Bill Thompson in the upcoming mayoralty election, is multi billionaire business tycoon Bloomberg. The recent endorsements of Bill Thompson by two powerful New York City unions, TWU Local 100 and DC37 of AFSCME, have given a big boost to the Bill Thompson campaign just as pools show more and more New York voters swinging towards Thompson.
Years ago Bloomberg financed his campaign with tens of millions of dollars from his own fortune and captured the mayor’s office. This time, under severe threat from Thompson, Bloomberg is once again poring millions into his campaign. He has spent almost $40 million already and Election Day is still almost 2 months away. Although $40 million sounds like an enormous amount, and to ordinary working people it is, it represents only a tiny fraction of billionaire Bloomberg’s personal wealth.
But Bloomberg’s use of his vast fortune is disgusting many New Yorkers. In fact, as was recently reported, the constant barrage of direct mail and TV ads churned out by his campaign is turning off an ever-growing number of voters. Many people are coming to the understanding that Bloomberg’s enormous campaign spending represents the efforts of an arrogant business tycoon to use money to buy everyone and everything and to subvert our democratic political process. That’s correct; Bloomberg is using his economic power to subvert the democratic system. Government officials, like the mayor, win office through popular elections, elections in which everyone can vote, regardless of their economic status or their relation to capital. The representatives so elected are then accountable to the people. This is our method of political organization.
But, there is an irreconcilable tension between this and the profoundly undemocratic organization of economic life under capitalism. Speaking in terms of capitalist economic organization, those who have the money, (capital), to control the means of production, such as factories office buildings, machinery and technology, or those who own such means of production outright, can exercise total control over all the productive forces, both the means of production and the workers whose labor they buy.
Bloomberg, the multi billionaire, wants to use the personal fortune he made via the undemocratic, capitalist method of organization to extend the control of capital into the political realm. He and his ilk want to exert the same autocratic control over the political process that they now have over their businesses. A great example of this is the way Bloomberg used bribery and intimidation to subvert New York’s “term limits” law. This law, originally pushed through on the initiative, and with the money, of right-wing business interests, was discarded by the mayor and his moneyed supporters when it no longer served their interests and would have, in fact, prevented him from using his fortune to buy another term in office.
Bloomberg’s willingness to spend his unlimited personnel funds on the election has led some people to despair but there is really no cause for such negativity. Capital in general, and Bloomberg in particular, have unlimited power and funds to fight labor and the peoples movement, both at the point of production and at the point of distribution, but labor and popular movements, particularly the organized sections of these fight and win all the time. Nobody said that this struggle is easy, or that it won’t have its ups and downs, but history is on the side of the people and barrels of money can’t change that fact.
Bloomberg’s billions may seem overwhelming to some but dollars alone can’t stand up to a united peoples movement. A movement that brings all of the core peoples forces – labor, organized and unorganized, poor people, the nationally oppressed, women and youth. Such a people’s movement can defeat Bloomberg and the retrograde forces behind him no matter how much money he spends on his campaign. A united peoples movement cannot be turned back simply by money. This is why Bloomberg, and the system he represents are, ultimately doomed.