Bring It On!

The Bloomberg Conundrum

June 26th, 2007 | by Ken Grandlund |

He used to be a Democrat. Then he decided to become a Republican when he ran (and was elected) for mayor of New York City. Now he’s switched course again, renouncing his political affiliation to either party and instead joined the growing ranks of non-affiliated registered voters.

Michael Bloomberg. The self-made billionaire turned politician who denies a possible presidential run in 2008 in spite of the recent whirlwind of media speculation that he will do just that. There’s no end to the buzz about what a Bloomberg candidacy would bring to the ‘08 election race. Many compare the scenario to the Perot candidacies of ‘92 and ‘96, and that’s probably as good a comparison as any. Except that Bloomberg is slightly better known than Perot was and he’s a hell of a lot richer. Naturally, the media focuses on who a Bloomberg candidacy would hurt the most: the Democratic or the Republican candidate? Choosing to portray Bloomberg as just another spoiler (ala Nader and Perot) from the outset, pundits and traditional media outlets once again reinforce to voters the notion that American government is a two party affair; that even though other kids can get into the school dance, they never really make it onto the floor. So while I don’t know a whole lot about Michael Bloomberg, per se, I do have some thoughts about what his independent candidacy could mean.

Hooray For Independents

My initial reaction to a possible independent Bloomberg candidacy is a burst of relief, not just that there would be a non-party affiliated candidate running for president (because after all, there are dozens of small party candidates on the ballot every election), but because Bloomberg has the capital to back up a decision to run. That financial might makes him a real contender if he chooses to be, meaning that there would at least be a realistic possibility that America could elect a non-partisan (at least officially) president not bound to any party, and perhaps (theoritically at least) more willing to look at what Americans seem to say they want from their government, and then present those ideas to the Congress for action. It would serve as a big wake-up call to the political establishment that it was time to change their ways and return to representing the people, or the people would be changing them.

Bloomberg seems to be a more true representation of the American voter too, at least in terms of political ideology. Few voters are staunchly right or left leanings in all their political/social beliefs. Most are a nuance of beliefs that affilliation with neither party exclusively can provide. If Bloomberg indeed fits this mold, as his Dem/Rep/Ind positions show, the citizens of America would have a president not bound by party ideology that appealed to a narrow “base,” or a corporate subservience based on financial fealty. And in an era of political scandal for personal gain, Bloomberg’s own lack of scandal (that I am aware of) and his refusal to take any more than $1 in salary as mayor of New York City, shows a refreshing sense of stewardship clearly lacking in today’s politicians. As Congress and state officials across the land vote to increase their own salaries while slashing troop benefits and social programs, Bloomberg thinks his city can use the money more than he can, so he makes sure the city keeps it. A small gesture to be sure, but one that some recent wealthy presidents and government leaders seem unable to make themselves.

Which of course brings us to speak of Bloomberg’s wealth and the advantages that offers him. As a billionaire, the man wouldn’t need to be beholden to any particular entity (corporate, economic sector, or otherwise), nor would he have to engage in the cesspool of incestuous political fundraising that now consumes much of our elected officials’ day planners. His money makes him truly independent, and what’s more, injecting a few billion dollars into the national economy would mean he could truly claim to have done something to help the economy. His campaign would stimulate income for broadcasters and advertisers, bumper sticker printers, t-shirt vendors, and on down the line. Talk about a tangible campaign slogan.

On The Other Hand

Of course, the other side of the money issue is whether a Bloomberg campaign would be portrayed as an attempt to ‘buy the presidency.’ Would a Bloomberg independent (and independently financed) candidacy spell trouble for future independent candidates simply by raising the bar so high? After all, there are only so many billionaires to go around. Other than BIll Gates and Oprah, there aren’t many to choose from. Maybe Warren Buffet? And who’s to say they want they job? Or are even independent? If the only way to win a major office as an independent is to be insanely wealthy, Bloomberg could end up an anamoly instead of a harbinger of real change.

And then there is still the whole “spoiler” issue to contend with. Because unless Bloomberg can convince tens and tens of millions of Americans to actually vote for him, all he’s likely to do is tip the scales more heavily towards one of the major party poster children or effect a painfully close decision likely to lengthen our country’s divisiveness. Instead of disfunctional dualism, we’d end up as a disfunctional triad. And I’m not sure that this country needs to become even more politically divided.

Final Thoughts

So is America well served by an independent, billion-dollar campaign? And is Michael Bloomberg even the guy to run it? I’m afraid I just have the answer right now. But I can tell you this- I’m pretty well tired of the bullshit and what passes for political leadership these days. And maybe if for no other reason than to show those pampered, out-of-touch politicians that enough is enough, a Michael Bloomberg is just what this country needs. I tell you what- unless we find out he’s some kind of underground child molester, I’ll vote for an independent these days over a party candidate every chance I get.

Michael+Bloomberg, independent+presidential+candidate, politics

  1. 12 Responses to “The Bloomberg Conundrum”

  2. By Jersey McJones on Jun 26, 2007 | Reply

    With the right moves, Bloomberg could win the national vote, or at least enough in big states to overwhelm the shall states - but as long as there is an Electoral College, itdoesn’t matter. Perot won 19% of the vote in ‘92 and didn’t get one single delegate. The two parties have a rigged system right now. It’s too bad. Bloomberg is a damned shot better than any of the top tier candidates from both sides of the aisle.


  3. By Tom Baker on Jun 26, 2007 | Reply

    You know as much as I like a 3rd party candidate, Bloomberg just isn’t the guy. He’s dull and boring and strikes me as a rich guy who wants to buy the Presidency. He’s better than most Republicans, but that scares me as well because the votes he will siphon off will be Moderate Dems more than Moderate Repubs. I know people who are proponents of a 3rd party say thats the price we pay, but the price we are paying for Ralph Nader’s run in 2000 is a Supreme Court who ruled yesterday to give Corporations the same 1’st Amendment rights that people USED to have, to strip Freedom of Speech from students and to gut the endangered species act. Not to mention killing any reasonable hope of campaign finance reform that would make a 3rd party candidate possible.

    .I like a 3rd party in theory, but in practice, I just can’t take the chance that President Romeny\McCain\Thompson\etc etc takes office this time. It can not happen. 

  4. By manapp99 on Jun 26, 2007 | Reply

    It is hard to say who a Bloomberg run would benefit but it would not likely be Bloomberg. He has said himself that he does not want to run as a spoiler, only wants to run if he has a legitimate chance. If this is true he probably will not run. One correction. While Bloom is richer than Perot it is only by a billion bucks. Forbes has Bloom at 5.3 bil and Perot at 4.3. Both rich enough to test the ability to “buy” the presidency.

  5. By Ron on Jun 26, 2007 | Reply

    I agree with Tom, Bloomberg is not exciting enough to pull a Perot. Perot’s eccentricity is what got him noticed-it wasn’t just his common sense messages.

  6. By Dusty on Jun 26, 2007 | Reply

    I am registered as “decline to state” and have been for a couple of decades now. I would welcome a strong candidate from a third party, but like Jersey said..the deck is stacked against that ever happening..thanks to the two parties that control the Electoral College.


    Its all so fucked up. Republican and Republican-lite..thats all we get to choose from.  

  7. By Ron on Jun 26, 2007 | Reply

    I know the electoral college is part of the problem, but I think the real problem is too many states are winner-take-all electoral voters. I think there are a few states that apportion their electors to the percentage gained by each party, or at least give their electors an opportunity to break from the winner take all situation.

  8. By Jersey McJones on Jun 26, 2007 | Reply

    Yeah, but beyond that Ron, the parties control so much, from the debates, to the poll workers, to the various public and private institutions.  It’s just hard to imagine how anyone could break through all that.  If someone could though, it could well be the end of the parties as we know them.  It’s not like it hasn’t happened before.  The GOP itself is an example of this. 


  9. By Ron on Jun 26, 2007 | Reply

    SMDP is the problem. The only way to create a plurality of parties is to eliminate majority rule and comprise the Congress by the percentage the party received. It would allow us to bring forth so many other ideas that a coalition in Congress would be able to pass without having to face an obstructionist minority.

  10. By Jersey McJones on Jun 26, 2007 | Reply

    I don’t see how we get to that parliamentary scenerio with what we have now.

    What we need, sadly, is the obsolescence of a large portion of middle American voters for a few years.  It is possible that the middle American polity will lose interest in abortion and gays and war, just as they eventually forget to replace the plastic flag magnets on their bumper.  If those voters stay home, then just maybe a new GOP could emerge.

    Hey gang.  Wouldn’t it be great to move into an old house and rennovate it?

    Kill today’s GOP.  Let the Dems have the South.

    Now you have you’re realistically achievable “new” party - and it would be better for all.  ;)

  11. By Lazy Iguana on Jun 27, 2007 | Reply

    The system is rigged for a two party system. Lets say the dude does run and wins a few States. There is the pesky electoral college to contend with.

    The winner takes all is really the only way that anyone can “win” today. You need to get what? 270 votes in the college? Something like that. Out of 538.

    So what would happen in a system where it was not winner take all? It is possible that any candidate would not get the required 270 votes, and the President would then be selected by the Congress.

    So what if Bloomberg does run and wins a few high value states? Remember that in 2000 Gore won all the high value States except for Florida. He needed only 3 or 4 votes to win, Bush needed something like 25. Florida has 27. So Bush won by 2 votes in the college.

    But what if Nader had taken all of FL? Then who would get those 27 votes? Could Nader have instructed his people to vote for Gore, thereby handing him the election? Or would Congress have selected the winner?

    I would like to see him run and win enough states to prevent anyone else from getting the 270 votes. That would be sweet. Then maybe we could get rid of the bullshit and open up room for a viable third party.

    But the question is are we ready for a President that does not get more than 50% of the popular vote? Oh wait - we already have one of those! Never mind.


  12. By Ron on Jun 27, 2007 | Reply

    Jersey, i think both scenarios are dead in the water. I’m just saying, there’s a reason why we have Cold Shit And Warm Shit, and one reason is a dimwitted voting bloc convinced to shit in its own nest, and the other is that the winner takes all.

  13. By Jersey McJones on Jun 27, 2007 | Reply

    Well, that, Ron, and the Corporatocracy…  ;)

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