NYC Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced Tuesday that he's ditching his Republican Party affiliation and becoming an Independent. With that, the 2008 presidential election just got a helluva lot more interesting. And ya know what? Bloomberg's got the chops to actually be our next president, which is why the national news media is now obsessing over this new wrinkle. But it's a subject I wrote about over a year ago in a piece titled "President Bloomberg? The Mayor Says No, But His Actions Say Maybe." Well, his actions now say "Yes."
Here's what I wrote back in May '06:
There's been a lot of chatter lately about a possible '08 run for the White House by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. Despite repeated denials of a presidential bid, he's been expanding his political horizons by commenting on a wide-variety of national-interest issues such as the environment, illegal immigration, gun control, stem-cell research, intelligent design and gay marriage. Regardless of his broader political aspirations or lack thereof, I happen to think a Bloomberg candidacy has a lot of viability.
It's unlikely he'd be able to win either the Democratic or Republican nomination. But with voters' anger and frustration with Bush and the Republicans never greater, and with their clear lack of enthusiasm for Democrats, the time has never been better for a 3rd party candidate to race down the middle and capture the disenfranchised on both sides. Though such independent candidates have never fared well in American politics, that doesn't mean they never will. What Bloomberg has that no other candidate has is party duality. He's the only one who could say "I've been a Democrat, I've been a Republican, and I can give you the very best of both parties while also giving you the fresh perspective of a Washington outsider who's not beholden to any special interests." He could run on a bi-partisan platform that promises to bring the nation together after more than a decade of unprecedented nastiness between the parties. In an era of unjust war, record deficits, skyrocketing energy costs and rampant corruption, this sort of message could strike a major chord with voters and change history.
Unlike the current White House occupant and "CEO" president, Bloomberg is a highly effective and successful chief executive in both business and politics. His media empire has made him one of the richest people in the world with an estimated $5 billion fortune. This success has translated into political success as mayor of New York. On his watch, NYC has amassed a $5-billion budget surplus; crime has continued to drop; the public education system has been overhauled, and test scores have risen; the streets are cleaner; and tourism has never been stronger.
As if this record wasn't enough to attract voters, consider that his politics represent the mood of a majority of Americans today: socially moderate and fiscally conservative. He's got the track-record, the deep pockets, and the f**k-you attitude towards special interests to appeal to the tens of millions who are fed up with the current state of politics.
The big question is, if he did run, and he didn't win, would he simply be a spoiler as Ralph Nader was in 2000? And if so, who would he pull votes from, the Dems or the Repugs? Stay tuned. I have a feeling we're going to be hearing a lot more about "non-candidate" Bloomberg's candidacy over the next several months.
What a difference a year makes. The GOP's in a state of flux, with no clear frontrunner to give Mayor Mike a run for his endless supply of money. Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, once the party's "sure thing," has alienated his core conservative base; they're not sure whether they should worry more about his pro-abortion stand, his delusions about the Iraq war, or his penchant for cross-dressing. Sen. John McCain (AZ) has firmly attached himself to Bush's shredded coattails and subsequently watched his campaign self-implode. And Stormin' Mormon Mitt Romney has about as much chance of becoming president as I do. That leaves them with their new great white hope, former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson, who very well might have more skeletons in his closet than a forensic pathologist. Over on the Left, Sen. Barack Obama (IL) is on a fast train to nowhere, while the ever-posturing, always polarizing Sen. Hillary Clinton (NY) is pulling away from the pack. But will that pack soon include Al Gore? I say it will, and that could really help The Goracle. An Independent Bloomberg would surely on some level split the GOP ticket. But let's look at it from Bloomy's perspective and assume Gore's not running. That means he goes head-to-head against Hillary and whichever weak candidate the GOP props up. Suddenly, Mayor Mike starts to look like President Mike.
Maybe Bloomberg-as-president is what America needs right now. Our two-party system has failed us miserably, and maybe the one true positive legacy of the failed Bush administration is that it made voters sick of the current political process and of politicians in general. And only Bloomy can run as a "non-politician." Unlike our current "CEO President," who's truly not equipped to run the corporate mailroom let alone the boardroom, Bloomberg essentially turns everything he touches into gold.
I am more convinced now than I was a year ago that Bloomberg will indeed run, and quite possibly forever change America's political system in the process.