So what about Bloomberg? It’s a question more Democrats are asking recently, according to polls that show the former New York City mayor rising in the wake of the botched Democratic caucuses in Iowa and a muddled New Hampshire primary.
Quinnipiac’s nationwide polls had Bloomberg rising from 9 percent on Jan. 28 before the Iowa caucuses to 15 percent on the eve of New Hampshire’s primary. Bloomberg’s rise can be partially attributed to a vacuum in leadership atop the field of Democratic candidates, with longtime frontrunner Joe Biden dropping from 26 percent to 17 percent in the same poll.
Doubts about the leading Dems aren’t limited to Biden. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., fared well in Iowa and New Hampshire, but didn’t deliver the sort of knockout blow that has thinned the field at this stage in past primaries. And the dismal showing of fellow leftist Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., combined with the strong performances of centrists Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, raise questions of whether Sanders can expand his appeal beyond his left-leaning base to capture the Democratic nomination as an independent.
Many Democrats in swing districts have doubts about whether it would be wise or even politically practical to back Sanders and his controversial policy proposals, such as Medicare for All, the Green New Deal and his plan to pay off all $1.6 trillion of the nation’s student loan debt. Our own Rep. Anthony Brindisi, D-Utica, who ousted incumbent Rep. Claudia Tenney, R-New Hartford, in 2018 in a district President Donald Trump had won two years earlier, expressed such skepticism recently in an interview with the Syracuse Post-Standard.
“I don’t think the people that I represent are looking for a president who supports abolishing private health insurance companies, and I don’t either,” Brindisi said to the Post-Standard’s editorial board. “I’m not endorsing Warren or Sanders. I respect them. But the policies that they’re running on don’t necessarily align with my beliefs and the beliefs of many of the people that I represent.”
This editorial should not be read as an endorsement of Bloomberg. But it’s not hard to see why some of our readers might see the appeal of voting for him. Ask this simple question: among all the candidates still running for president, including Trump, who is best equipped to do the job? As mayor of a global city for a decade, Bloomberg filled a demanding, high-pressure political office capably, with approval ratings that compared favorably to those of predecessor Rudy Giuliani and successor Bill de Blasio. World leaders take Bloomberg seriously, making him fit to handle the arduous task of restoring American credibility abroad in Trump’s wake.
Liberals (and fiscal conservatives, for that matter) can agree with Bloomberg’s proposal to hike taxes on the wealthy by $5 trillion. It doesn’t go as far as plans by Sanders and Warren to tax the rich, but would undo much of the damage wrought by Trump’s reckless 2017 tax package, which has sent the federal budget deficit beyond the $1 trillion mark. A Bloomberg administration would also take global warming seriously, and as mayor he oversaw a vast reduction in New York City’s air pollution.
Or maybe you’re a disaffected Republican thinking of standing by the businessman in the White House. Unlike the Trump mythos, Bloomberg is a verified billionaire and self-made man. He made his fortune in journalism not through Rupert Murdoch-style sensationalism but by betting that fact-hungry investors would pay good money for informative, reliably accurate business reporting.
Even Democrats who won’t support Bloomberg should welcome his reasonable tone and easygoing temperament in a party that has been riven by division. He has promised not to run as a third-party spoiler and vowed to throw his money and support behind whoever takes on Trump. Democrats should instead see his candidacy for what it is: an offer of help, to a party that perhaps could use it.