Saturday, March 12, 2016

Third Thoughts

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg announced, after deliberating on whether or not to  run for President this year as an independent, not to do so.  The 74-year-old billionaire businessman said he decided that a third-ticket presidential candidacy, which he was considering should that other billionaire businessman from New York, Donald Trump, get the Republican presidential nomination,  would be too much of a risk to the nation by splitting the vote against Trump in a likely Trump-Clinton race and putting Trump in the White House.
It seems to me, though, that Trump doesn't need a spoiler to win the Presidency.  The Republican front-runner has taken a beating from his opponent for that party's presidential nomination, and he's worn thin on some voters, but he convincingly won the Michigan Republican primary and put his chief opponent Ted Cruz (Marco who?) farther behind him.  Trump is bringing in more Republican voters than Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders is bringing in voters for the Democrats, whose rear ends are still sore after the kicking they received there from the GOP in 2010 and 2014.  Admittedly, things could change.  A Trump rally in Chicago had to be canceled last night when protesters infiltrated it and forced it to be shut down; things got ugly rather fast, much to Trump's own dismay, and he's likely aware that his own heated, exclusionary rhetoric has ignited counter-demonstrations against his candidacy.  (I'll have more on this later.)  Trump has been bent, and he could be broken long before he reaches the general election.  But no one should underestimate his ability to bounce back from the worst and turn things around for his campaign.
And then there's Bernie Sanders.  Bloomberg had also indicated that he would have run as a third-ticket candidate if the Democrats nominated Sanders to go against a Republican nominee other than Trump or if the two major parties ended up producing a Sanders-Trump race.  By taking himself out now he's suggesting that he obviously thinks Mrs. Clinton will win the Democratic nomination, and then win a two-way race with Trump in November, and so Bloomberg wants to ensure that with his withdrawal.  Bloomberg sees Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, as an unrealistic idealist who doesn't belong in the White House. But here's the thing: Sanders has proven himself to be more resilient than Trump has, largely because he appeals to people's decency in calling for  people to resist against the same political Establishment that Trump supporters profess to despise.  Sanders has a message that is pro-worker and pro-middle-class and calls for an activist government to turn things around for the common people.  That message of economic, social, and political justice is keeping Sanders competitive against Hillary.   Bernie Sanders may be behind, but he's still in this race, having just won the Michigan Democratic primary and going into more states where his message is likely to strike a similar chord with the voters.  Things could also change for Bernie, given the complicated delegate math and the dreaded "superdelegates" that try to ensure that the establishment presidential candidate always wins the Democratic nomination, but he's ready to go all the way to California and New Jersey in June.  Given all that's going on, Bloomberg may come to regret his decision not to pursue the Presidency.

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