Bloomberg Says He Will Not Run But Pressures For Alternative Remain

Maybe its because everything looks more real on high definition, but Michael Bloomberg’s statement that he doesn’t plan to run certainly sounded like he meant it when he was interviewed by Dan Rather on HDNet Tuesday night. For those who do not receive HDNet, Reuters provides a summary. I always suspected Bloomberg would not run because of not wanting to spend his money on a campaign he probably could not win. Hearing Bloomberg cite his belief that “Nobody’s going to elect me president of the United States” provides a convincing argument that he does not plan to run.

Ask me next January or February, after we have the nominees from the major political parties, whether Bloomberg’s decision is a good or bad thing.

In 2004 there was little talk of third party candidates as most people were either determined to attempt to throw Bush out of office or to reelect the person whey were conned into thinking was keeping them safe from terrorism. At this point in the election cycle, without a candidate as polarizing as George Bush, there is far more talk of third parties than in a typical election.

When there isn’t talk of individuals such as Bloomberg, Unity 08 has dominated much of the consideration of third party bids. Unity 08 looks like a backwards idea based upon choosing a candidate from each party for President and Vice President. The problem is that until they have such nominees there is no ideology for the party. A pair of from each party could turn out to be better or worse than the actual candidates of the two parties.

For a third party movement to make sense there must be ideas behind it which are not adequately represented by the major parties. If the party has the right ideas it could then seek out candidates, with current party affiliation not being crucial.

It appears to be a safe bet that the Republican nominee will be from the far right. Whether there is a need for a third party will therefore depend more upon what the Democrats do. In recent years, culminating in 2006, there has been an increase in support for Democrats among college educated professionals, small businessmen, and suburbanites. It was easy to find common cause with more traditional Democratic voters in opposing the war and the social conservative policies of the Republicans. It will be harder for these groups to agree upon policies once the Democrats are governing.

Of the candidates currently seeking the Democratic nomination, so far only Barack Obama and Bill Richardson have shown an ability to unite both traditional Democratic voters, new Democratic voters, and independents. It remains unclear as to whether Hillary Clinton can accomplish this. Beyond his fellow trial lawyers, few educated professionals or others who have achieved success will accept John Edwards-style populism. If that had been possible, the Edwards have burned that bridge with the exclusionary nature of their campaign rhetoric.

Should the Edwards campaign recover from its recent melt down and win, a large number of independents and new Democratic voters may not have an acceptable choice, leaving the possibility for attempting to develop a new political party. Running a third party candidate would only make sense if the ultimate goal is the development of a new political party considering the low likelihood of success in 2008. It was never clear that Michael Bloomberg, with his reputation for supporting the nanny state, ever was the best candidate for such a third party. The forces which drove consideration of Bloomberg persist regardless of whether Bloomberg himself is a candidate.

The two party system requires that divergent groups be able to unite despite their differences. The Perot vote, as well as the amount of talk of a third party bid in 2008, are manifestations of the inability of either party to satisfy a significant number of voters. In recent years many of us independents saw no alternative but to support the Democrats after the Republicans moved to the extreme right. The question now is whether the Democrats can keep the divergent groups who voted for them in 2006 satisfied or if we will see a major third party candidacy.

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