Bloomberg: A Candidate We Can Get Behind

March 2, 2020
Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg holds a campaign rally in Detroit, Feb. 4, 2020. (Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

My father always said I could ask him anything. But his ballot was a closely guarded secret. He avoided politics his entire life, seeing his mission as transcending such divides. Having survived the brutality of a populist dictatorship in Europe, he found refuge in the United States. He loved his adopted country. His eyes would tear up when the customs officers at JFK airport would stamp his passport and tell him: “Welcome home.”

I’m not writing this for my father.

My mother was also an immigrant from war-torn Europe. She marched for civil rights in the Jim Crow South and carried her NAACP card with pride. She sees how President Donald Trump’s administration demonizes South and Central American and Mexican immigrants, as well as Muslim refugees, for political gain. And she is dismayed that anti-Semitism has appeared on the left as well as the right, spreading its poison into progressive causes as important as the Women’s March. Three of its founders were forced to resign in disgrace when their tolerance for Jewish conspiracy theories was exposed. One of them is now an official surrogate for the Bernie Sanders campaign.

But I’m not writing this for my mother either. I’m writing it for my children.

As a parent, my nightmare is another school shooting. Our kids should not have to practice lockdown drills at school. Our leaders do nothing, or worse, stand in the way of gun safety reform.

My son is 14. He learned about climate change in elementary school and internalized it quickly. For years, his fear for our planet’s survival kept him up at night. He remembers the night Trump was elected president. He can’t forget what came next: slashed budgets for the Environmental Protection Agency, withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, the destruction of basic protections for clean air and water. Now when the topic comes up, my son often will leave the room. He’s no longer scared of what might happen. He’s scared of what’s already happening.

My daughter is 11. She knows bullies thrive on fear, and she knows that their power over people derives from the idea of “us” versus “them.” She has read what the president tweets about people he doesn’t like. Sometimes her brother shows her the hatred on Reddit toward political candidates who fall short of seeking revolution. Much of it is aimed at fellow Democrats by Sanders supporters.

Guns. Climate change. Bullying. The failure to meaningfully combat these challenges leaves my family, like many Americans, ready for change.

Who will we choose to drive this change?

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a perfect candidate or a perfect record.

I’ve found a candidate who built a world-class business that created jobs for thousands, but was slow to eradicate the sexist culture of its time. He made the streets safer, but at the expense of human dignity.

Guns. Climate change. Bullying. The failure to meaningfully combat these challenges leaves my family, like many Americans, ready for change.

He has learned from these mistakes and apologized. But more than that, he took action. He has vigorously committed himself to championing equality in the workplace. In recent years, his company earned a perfect score in the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index. And in his last term as mayor of New York, he launched the Young Men’s Initiative to tackle the many challenges faced by African-American and Latino youth. It became the prototype for the My Brother’s Keeper program in former President Barack Obama’s  administration.

He is an activist, one with an unparalleled record in addressing climate change and gun safety. He partnered with the Sierra Club to retire 300 coal-fired plants and help transition us to clean energy. He created Everytown for Gun Safety, bringing together millions of supporters to end the cycle of bloodshed haunting American families. He has done more as a private citizen on these issues than any other candidate. Imagine what he would do as president.

Unlike the populist in the White House and the populist currently leading the Democratic primary polls, he refuses to stoke fear and anger. His advisers, unlike Trump’s, don’t defend separating parents from children. Unlike Bernie, he doesn’t find praise for Jeremy Corbyn, who has shattered England’s Labour Party with its rampant anti-Semitism. He stands against the demagoguery that incited tiki torch-bearing neo-Nazis who shouted, “Jews will not replace us” in 2017 in Charlottesville, Va., and the far-left extremists who burned American and Israeli flags outside the Democratic National Convention in 2016 in Philadelphia.

The candidate I plan to vote for recognizes that the true strength of America is in our determination to find common ground.

That candidate is Mike Bloomberg. I will vote for him in the New York primary.

Elisha Wiesel is the son of Marion and Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor, author and Nobel laureate. He is a volunteer data scientist at Hawkfish, LLC, the digital agency for the Mike Bloomberg 2020 campaign. The opinions expressed are entirely his own. 

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