Why a Bloomberg White House might be the palate cleanser America needs

Photo credit: Center for American Progress via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-ND

Four years to get their houses in order and take some controversial issues off the agenda could help the Democrats and Republicans to have a better debate in 2020.

An article in the Chicago Sun-Times today points out that, although Bloomberg hasn't announced yet, oddsmakers currently put his chances of winning the White House at 16-1. The billionaire businessman and New York mayor is an endangered species in American politics; a Rockefeller Republican.

Bloomberg isn't loved by the GOP or the Democrats, but he isn't hated either. He is a pro-business, fiscal conservative who is an opposed to excessive regulation. He is also pro-choice, pro-gun control, an environmentalist and a supporter of immigration reform. A Bloomberg Presidency could give both sides the opportunity to find consensus and take some issues off the table and take a do-over on the 2016 elections.

Of course a Bloomberg candidacy may not happen. At the moment he says that he's weighing all of his options, he has previously said that he'll run if the Democrats nominate Sanders and the Republicans nominate Trump or Cruz. At this point, Clinton could still get the nomination, so could Rubio, Trump may run as an Independent and Joe Biden may jump in to the Democratic primaries (the odds makers put him at 60-1 according to the Sun-Times).

If he is going to run, however, he will have to make a decision soon. It takes a tremendous amount of work for an independent to get on the ballot in all 50 states and the soonest he could begin work is March 2, the day after Super Tuesday. Reed Galan at RealClear Politics does a good job of laying out the hurdles he'd have to clear. (Note: Any other candidates thinking seriously about mounting an independent bid would have to set things in motion in early March as well.)

To date, no candidate has ever won the US Presidency without the backing of a political party. That includes Teddy Roosevelt who has already been President when he ran. However, no election in recent memory has been as much of a SNAFU as this one and Bloomberg would be on some unusual ground.

  • First: In a poll done in late January, Bloomberg polled at up to 29 percent without a campaign and without having run a single ad.
  • Second: Bloomberg would not be running as a rebel candidate from the right, or the left. Instead he would be appealing to the vast center in American politics and urging voters to avoid extremes.
  • Third: In a race between Sanders, Trump or Cruz and Bloomberg, he would find ready allies among moderates from both parties and deep pocketed donors as well (in case his own billions aren't enough).
  • Fourth: He doesn't actually have to win, he just has to prevent anyone else from scoring a majority of electoral votes.

In the highly unusual case where someone fails to win a majority of electoral votes in the November general election, there is no provision in the US Constitution for a run-off. Instead it falls to the House of Representatives to pick the president.

Under normal conditions you would expect that whichever party controlled the house would choose their own candidate to be the president. However, these are not normal circumstances and in a Sanders vs. Trump race, moderate Dems and Republicans could decide to choose Bloomberg who wouldn't be a member of either party and so couldn't prove damaging to them from the White House.

At 74, Bloomberg might not seek a second term and a four year break from the White House could stand to benefit both parties. It would give the "establishment" on the right and the left two years to assess what happened this year and how to correct it, or themselves, before 2020. It would also give them a chance to compromise.

Because neither party would have to take the blame or would be able to take full credit for anything that happened on Michael Bloomberg's watch, there would be an opportunity to take care of some business. Both parties, for example, know that they have to do something about immigration. Both parties know that Donald Trump's proposed solutions are absurd. However, neither side wants to take the blame or to allow the other side to have all of the credit for allowing illegal immigrants to become citizens. A Bloomberg proposal would solve that problem.

Bloomberg might also be able to get consensus bills passed on common sense gun control, climate change, criminal justice reform and other issues that Congress has had difficulty moving on. Clearing these issues off the table, and allowing Obamacare and equal marriage time to sink in, would give the Dems and the GOP a clearer picture of the debate in 2020. The issues up for debate would largely be foreign policy and the economy and both sides, hopefully, would be prepared for a real debate about the future on those issues.

Again, there has never been an independent President of the United States, but the dynamics this year are unique. President Bloomberg has moved out of the reslm of science fiction and into the arena of potential contenders.


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