Bloomberg to college grads: Keep demagoguery out of the White House

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Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, speaking at a commencement speech at Harvard University on Thursday, May 29, 2014, criticized what he described as a disturbing trend of liberals silencing voices they "deemed politically objectionable."

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Saturday urged college students to reject “demagogues” in the presidential race — chastising Republicans and Democrats, though he didn’t mention any candidates by name.

“Every generation has had to confront its own demagogues,” Bloomberg said at a commencement address at the University of Michigan. “And every generation has stood up and kept them away from the White House. At least so far. And now it is your turn.”

He continued, “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. For Democrats, it’s the wealthy and Wall Street.”

“The truth is, we can’t solve the problems we face by blaming anyone,” Bloomberg added. “We are in this together and we all must be part of the solution.”

Bloomberg also criticized university leaders across the country who focus on creating “safe spaces” for college students that he said keep them hearing opposing views.

“The fact that some university boards and administrations bow to pressure groups and shield students from these ideas through ‘safe spaces,’ ‘code words’ and ‘trigger warnings’ is, in my view, a terrible mistake,” he said.

“A microagression is exactly that — micro. But in a macro sense, one of the most dangerous spaces on a college campus is the so-called safe space, because it creates a false impression that we can isolate ourselves from those who hold different views,” Bloomberg said to faint applause and some boos. “We can’t and we shouldn’t try — not in politics, and not in the workplace.”

Bloomberg considered entering the 2016 presidential election earlier this year as an independent candidate, but decided against doing so after he concluded that a three-way race would benefit Donald Trump.

Trump’s proposals “would divide us at home and compromise our moral leadership around the world,” Bloomberg previously wrote in a column on Bloomberg View, his opinion site. “The end result would be to embolden our enemies, threaten the security of our allies, and put our own men and women in uniform at greater risk.”

“I love our country too much to play a role in electing a candidate who would weaken our unity and darken our future — and so I will not enter the race for president of the United States,” he wrote.