Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg took aim at Washington on Saturday, asserting that Americans are facing an “epidemic of dishonesty” that poses a greater threat to U.S. democracy than terrorism or communism.
During a commencement speech at Rice University in Texas, the 76-year-old billionaire criticized politicians for their “extreme partisanship,” claiming that it has led to an unprecedented tolerance for dishonesty in politics.
“The greatest threat to American democracy isn’t communism, jihadism or any other external force or foreign power,” he said. “It’s our own willingness to tolerate dishonesty in service of party, and in pursuit of power.”
Bloomberg referenced the 1990s, when Democrats staunchly defended then-President Bill Clinton against charges of misconduct and dishonesty, all while Republicans joined together to attack his ethics and personal morality. He said that just the reverse is happening in today’s White House.
He also talked about climate change as another example of “alternate realities” created by politicians’ “endless barrage of lies.”
“If 99 percent of scientists whose research has been peer-reviewed reach the same general conclusion about a theory, then we ought to accept it as the best available information — even if it’s not a 100 percent certainty,” Bloomberg said.
“How did we go from a president who could not tell a lie to politicians who cannot tell the truth?”
He added that a climate of tolerance for “dishonest politicians” has been made worse by “a chorus of enablers who defend their every lie.”
“When we tolerate dishonesty, we get criminality. Sometimes, it’s in the form of corruption. Sometimes, it’s abuse of power. And sometimes, it’s both,” Bloomberg said.