Students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are organizing an Alternative Commencement Ceremony to celebrate the achievements of the class of 2012 without symbolically honoring New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who will speak at the official University commencement on May 13th.
Students decided to organize the ceremony in light of Bloomberg’s support for what became a violent eviction of Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zuccotti Park, and the NYPD’s repression of credentialed journalists who attempted to enter the park during the eviction process. The students also take issue with Bloomberg’s handling of New York City public schools, for which he has received harsh criticism from teachers, parents, and community members. Organizers are further concerned by the recently exposed NYPD blanket surveillance of Muslim student groups and community centers across the northeast, and most recently by Bloomberg’s public support for the financial giant Goldman Sachs, which has been implicated in manipulative and fraudulent banking practices which contributed to the financial collapse of 2007.
This is what we need as Bloomberg starts thinking about national office. He is banking on the fact that being an Independent in an age of odious partisanship will propel his career in federal government.
As teachers in New York City, we want to fight the day-to-day battles against Mayoral control, school closings and charters by taking to the streets. This is necessary work, the type that seems to be getting more popular every day.
We need to use this inspiring work to tarnish Bloomberg’s name on the national stage. He has met with Obama and signaled his willingness to work with a president from either major party. Combine this with his comments about the NYPD being his own army, his desire to fire 50% of NYC teachers and his crusades against smoking and trans-fats and you get a clear picture of an out-of-touch megalomaniac.
It is easy for Bloomberg to be bipartisan, because he is a corporatist with the means to fund his own political career. He does not need to latch on to any major party to run a political campaign.
This helps explain his fear of Occupy. Occupy is bipartisan in its own way, more accurately post-partisan, and the last thing he wants is a grassroots movement to steal his thunder. He wants to represent the next stage of politics where party does not matter. Yet, it is just a stage and is designed to maintain the corporate status quo.
Occupy is more than a stage. It represents a new era aimed at dismantling corporatism. It, like Bloomberg, keeps its distance from both major parties. They are Bloomberg’s direct competitor.
Hopefully, the coming American Spring will end up destroying Bloomberg’s national reputation. As we can see from the University of North Carolina, that process has already started.