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US presidential race: Et tu Michael? And Deval?

James Cannon Boyce has been a senior adviser to two US presidential campaigns (Kerry and Richardson), worked with Vice President Al Gore (who should have run) and was involved with the creation of the Huffington Post. He is founder of Africa New Media Group.

The US presidential race is always compelling – if difficult – to follow. The current jostling for position among Democratic candidates is as intriguing and baffling as ever, so here’s an insider’s perspective to help us out.

Mike Bloomberg is a Boston kid – born and raised in a not-so-affluent part of the US town – who was first a self-made millionaire, then a self-made billionaire and now a presidential candidate.

Bloomberg has filed papers in Alabama (of all places) to run for the Democratic nomination for president of the US. As recently as March, Bloomberg promised he wouldn’t run because of the importance of beating Donald Trump.

Deval Patrick is most notable in political circles for running the governor’s campaign in Massachusetts that was David Axelrod’s dry run for Barack Obama’s campaign. Deval ran on a “Together, We Can” platform which was shifted a bit to “Yes, We Can” by Obama.

Since he left office, Deval has been pulling in about $500,000 a year working for Bain Capital – which is, of course, the firm of former presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. Deval is now – as of a day or so ago – another proud candidate for the presidency, having filed in New Hampshire.

So, what happened?

What would draw into the race a billionaire who’d promised he wouldn’t run? There is no groundswell for Bloomberg – he is overall respected, not quite liked, and why are so many of Hillary Clinton’s former advisors helping him?

Why would Deval stop cashing those checks and, again, with virtually no support, throw his hat in the ring?

A lot of my South African friends have asked me: “Can you explain your election to me?” Allow me to try, but first allow me to explain my bias. When I took a year off in 2004 to work on John Kerry’s campaign, I learned a lot of lessons.

I learned that Republicans play a different game. And I learned that many of the legacy Democratic Party insiders are horribly incompetent, miserable, greedy people.

Bloomberg and Patrick were perfectly happy sitting out the race as long as Joe Biden was going to be the Democratic nominee and the party could pay, to a degree, lip service to the rising discontentment of what they call the far left but which polling suggests is actually the majority of the Americans.

The far left of the party, of which I am a proud member, believes in some basic principles that we are not willing to compromise – or, as my friend Peter Daou often says, these are not issues where one can be bipartisan because there is no other side of the issue.

Is climate change real and should we do everything in our power to fight it, including restricting businesses operating in damaging industries?


Does a woman have a right to choose?


Should a person without a licence or background check be able to buy a gun and/or should anyone be able to buy an automatic weapon and carry it loaded anywhere they like?


The list goes on, but these are some of the fundamental positions that are top of mind. Beneath all this, is a fight going on in the Democratic Party over whether the Democrats will return to their pre-Clinton roots of being the part of the workers and the people or whether they will continue to pay lip service to those ideals while hosting fundraisers in the Hamptons.

Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were master orators with broad appeal to Democrats of all stripes who also kept an eye on the needs of big business. Prior to Clinton, the Democrats, even when lead by very wealthy men like Franklin D Roosevelt, was the party of the workers.

FDR famously said, “I welcome the wrath of my peers”, as he put workers and their rights first. He called the Democrats “the progressive party” and he was right.

Lyndon B Johnson took on his peers as well – with equally dramatic effect. As a friend of mine once said, the only time Republicans and big business shut the hell up was when FDR and LBJ beat them with a stick.

The Democrats have lost that path – badly – and Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, among others, want to put the party back on it.

The Republicans represent business and business owners who are going to fight against the minimum wage, because it costs them money, environmental regulation, because it costs them money, and health care, because it costs them money.

As Democrats in DC muddy the water, as Joe Biden argues it’s okay for his son to take an $80,000 consulting gig in the Ukraine, as Hillary Clinton argues she should take $640,000 from Goldman Sachs for a 45-minute appearance because Republicans do it all the time (proving my point I thought when I mentioned it to her and she disagreed), on the left there is a movement of Democrats reclaiming our party.

Sanders, a rumpled self-proclaimed socialist Jew from Brooklyn who somehow represents Vermont, almost upset HRC in 2016 because of the strength of this movement. AOC and her posse and a wave of newly elected officials are also proving the strength of this group.

Last week, Kentucky, the reddest of red places (I have never actually set foot there politically on two presidential campaigns, because why…?) elected a Democrat as Governor. The incumbent tried to slime the Democrat with images of Bernie, but guess what? That’s what the people there wanted.

Back to 2020.

There is enormous strength and appeal to both Warren and Sanders among Democrats everywhere on all issues. Their combined polling numbers dominate the race.

Biden can’t win. So now the legacy Washington DC world needs a candidate – and I include legacy media in that. Presidential campaigns roll in media-driven tides. Biden was hyped to the sky when he launched and the media fell right in line.

Watch as the media pushes “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg as an alternative (he is already climbing the polls); watch as the media reports that Bloomberg and Deval entering the contest shows Democrats are unhappy with their choices. We’re not. The legacy world just can’t believe that Warren or Sanders can win – and of course, they can.

Warren and Sanders refuse to do high-dollar fundraisers. And they refuse, to a degree, to play the game with the media. An entire world of sycophants is about to lose power and they will do anything they can to stop it. The desire to have their candidate run and lose is stronger than their desire to win the White House.

It’s very powerful, but how powerful? The Clintons are doing polling and I bet Hillary comes back.

How powerful? Bloomberg jumped into the race via paperwork in Alabama. Patrick too.

Iowa goes, I predict, to Warren. She and Bernie (and Mayor Pete) will have the money to stay in it till Super Tuesday when Bloomberg will embarrass himself. Deval will never get off the mat. Pete will lose steam in major Sanders and Warren delegate-rich places like New York and California. Elizabeth does better in a few places where Bernie might be perceived as too much – such as Florida.

Right now, your bet is Warren over Sanders in the end, with Mayor Pete showing strong and Bloomberg delivering a colossal mess of a campaign (Google Howard Wolfson).

But watch out for Hillary. She will let Bloomberg flounder, Deval never do a thing, and then come in to save the day. DM


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