BERLIN – One long-held truism of American politics held that no woman, no black and no Jew needs to try to run for president of the United States. Given the country’s inherent conservatism, any such candidate would fail.
Since the election of Barack Obama in 2008, that truism no longer applies in full. And, in 2016, Hillary Clinton got close, even winning a popular majority, though not the White House.
In 2020, we may reach the point when the third of those presumed barriers will fall — but not because of Bernie Sanders, the oddball leftie candidate.
Instead, the electoral odds inside the Democratic Party are aligning in such a manner that Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, could very well end up as the Democratic candidate for the U.S. presidency on Nov. 3. Bloomberg’s core pitch is going to be that, with Joe Biden fading rapidly, he is the only credible candidate with centrist appeal and an executive track record in government to allow the Democrats to win back the White House.
To be sure, Bloomberg is not the “warm and fuzzy” candidate that is often favored in Democratic Party primaries. Conventional wisdom also has it that Bloomberg does not have sufficient support from young people, black voters, Hispanic voters and progressives to succeed. That may be true for now. But it is also well known that, in the general election, Americans prefer moderates — and Bloomberg is certainly a moderate.
Even small-minded liberals, at this juncture, must realize that the re-election of Donald Trump will further accelerate the demise of the republic. After all, in order to please their great leader (and escape the mean-spirited punishment he is prepared to mete out at any given moment), the Republican Party in Congress is earnestly copying the rubber-stamp practices of the Soviet Union, or Putin’s Russia for that matter.
At such a historically important moment, any decision not to vote for the candidate who is best suited to beat Trump would be near-suicidal for liberal Democrats.
Moreover, selecting Amy Klobuchar, soon the last woman candidate in the primary race, as his running mate would help Bloomberg in more ways than just attract women voters.
Bloomberg’s candidacy is also boosted by the fact that the U.S. economy is performing quite well. That favors Trump and the Republicans. Other than Bloomberg, the Democrats have no candidate who even remotely has any significant economic policy experience or comprehension to challenge Trump on that subject. The other contenders are as ignorant as Trump is on the issue.
All of that leaves the Democrats in a pickle — were it not for the “Trump of 2020.” Like Trump before him in the 2016 Republican race, Bloomberg has long been deemed as the least probable candidate to succeed in the primary race.
Just like Trump in 2016, Bloomberg in 2020 may manage to pull “a rabbit out of the hat,” as the saying goes. And that rabbit would be himself. As it happens, Bloomberg is also running the polished, advertising-heavy and cost-intensive campaign in 2020 that everybody had expected (but did not get) from Trump in 2016.
With regard to the general election, Bloomberg more than neutralizes Trump on three key personality traits. The first is being a bigwig from New York City, the second being a certified multi-billionaire and the third being a truly successful CEO — and one who rose from the middle class.
On all three of those counts, Bloomberg is simply “bigger” than Trump. That must irk The Donald immensely. One could indeed imagine Bloomberg drawing blood from a maddeningly envious Trump who might fly off the handle on the debate stage.
The best argument that Bloomberg has going for him is that Bloomberg simply is everything Trump is not.
Unlike Trump, Bloomberg “gets” complex issues. Unlike Trump, Bloomberg can delegate and has shown that he can attract very good people to work for him. Unlike Trump, Bloomberg is truly civic-minded. Unlike Trump, Bloomberg has done impressive charitable giving. Unlike Trump, Bloomberg has committed to releasing his tax returns. And unlike Trump, Bloomberg can be relied upon not abusing the office for enrichment for himself and his clan.
Crucially, Bloomberg, with his longtime commitment to environmental causes, can get out young voters and women voters.
He could also tout truly liberal causes that he has championed and that find overarching support in the United States: A woman’s right to choose, effective gun control, income inequality and true tax reform.
If managed correctly, Bloomberg could not only win over young and women voters, but also independents and even the remaining centrist Republicans.
The fact that Bloomberg is no “pro” on national security and foreign policy won’t be relevant in the general campaign, as Trump is no expert in those areas either. Moreover, unless at times of war, foreign policy has never decided a national election in the U.S.
Better yet, Bloomberg can spin his strong domestic focus into a very positive and optimistic message about the U.S., the future and indeed the entire world. The obvious theme of Bloomberg’s campaign would be “Make America Proud Again.” He would speak up for America’s potential — and speak out against the venom, vengeance and hatred so liberally spewed out by Trump.
To reach young voters, Bloomberg will certainly argue that tackling climate change will make the U.S. better off as a nation, provide many good jobs, create a healthier homeland and secure our children’s future. In addition, it has the potential to make the U.S. a respected world leader once again. And that is precisely the kind of stuff that American voters like to eat up in campaigns.
Rest assured that the Republican dirt machine is out to mercilessly dig up just about anything on Bloomberg. The trouble for the Republican “war room” operation is that some of Bloomberg’s shadier or politically touchier points, which include charges of (past) womanizing, being very rich and being Jewish, are subject to the “three finger rule.” While Trump and his surrogates could point the finger at Bloomberg, at least three fingers would point back at Trump.
For starters, reawakening public attention to his own grotesquely sexist stances, practices and lawsuits would obviously lead him nowhere. And blaming Bloomberg for being Jewish only goes so far. After all, his own favorite person in the world, his daughter Ivanka, converted to Judaism.
Another favorite late-stage U.S. campaign trope is to raise charges of improper tax practices. But the man who prefers not to release his own tax returns for as long as he is in the White House has no standing on that matter whatsoever.
Ultimately, the physical height advantage may be all that Trump’s got over Bloomberg. Bloomberg measures only 1.72 meters compared to Trump’s 1.91 meters. Predictably enough, that earned Bloomberg the moniker “Mini Mike” from Trump. And while it is statistically true that Americans tend to elect the taller candidate, Jimmy Carter in 1976 beat Gerald Ford, measuring only 1.77 meters against the incumbent’s 1.83 meters.
Trump may thus find himself reduced to claiming that the Bloomberg candidacy is a big, bad conspiracy of the corrupt, lying, cheating liberal media to tear down Donald, the noble dragon slayer.
To which Bloomberg would probably respond by saying in debates: Mr. Trump, why don’t you tell us more about yourself? For when you describe the media (or any of your opponents and causes you oppose) and hurl negative stuff at them, you ultimately only describe yourself — and not them.
All of which leaves psychopathology as Trump’s main campaign weapon. At a time when America’s white working class feels much diminished in status, nobody should underrate that tool.
Trump’s tenure in office has shown just how mighty and destructive a political weapon this can be. The once proud notion of America’s checks and balances lies in tatters. And yet, not just Americans but most of the civilized world ardently hope that this demonic political practice will be soundly beaten — beaten not just at the ballot box but, much more critically, also in the Electoral College.
Stephan Richter is the publisher and editor-in-chief of The Globalist. www.theglobalist.com
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