Billionaire businessman and occasional politician Michael Bloomberg, who earlier this year seriously considered an independent bid for president amidst the possibility that the general election matchup would be Donald Trump vs. Bernie Sanders, put those two candidates at the center of his anti-demagogue commencement address to University of Michigan graduates on Saturday. Via an adapted transcript of the speech published on Bloomberg View, the former New York mayor never mentions either candidate by name, but the references are clear. In addition to flagging several infamous demagogues from American history and noting that every generation has to deal with them and keep them out of the White House, he adds that:
In this year’s presidential election, we’ve seen more demagoguery from both parties than I can remember in my lifetime. Our country is facing serious and difficult challenges. But rather than offering realistic solutions, candidates in both parties are blaming our problems on easy targets who breed resentment. For Republicans, it’s Mexicans here illegally and Muslims. And for Democrats, it’s the wealthy and Wall Street. The truth is: We cannot solve the problems we face by blaming anyone.
Bloomberg goes on to conclude:
In 1928, Republicans promised a “chicken in every pot and a car in every backyard.” They won control of Congress and the White House, and a year later, instead of a chicken and a car, we got the Great Depression.
Today, when a populist candidate promises free college, free health care and a pony, or another candidate promises to make other countries pay for our needs, remember: Those who promise you a free lunch will invariably eat you for breakfast.