Home/Daniel Larison/Bloomberg 2016: An Awful Idea That Won’t Die

Bloomberg 2016: An Awful Idea That Won’t Die

The awful idea of a Bloomberg presidential bid isn’t going away:

Mr Bloomberg told the FT that he would need to start putting his name on ballots across the US at the beginning of March. “I’m listening to what candidates are saying and what the primary voters appear to be doing,” he said.

His entry would radically affect the election, which has already been upended by the anti-establishment campaigns of Mr Trump and Mr Sanders. Many experts believe that Mr Bloomberg would help the Republican nominee by drawing more support from Democrats over Republicans because of his liberal stance on issues such as gun control and the environment.

The more I think about a Bloomberg candidacy, the harder it is for me to see how he has that much of an impact on the race. Yes, he could take away some votes from both major party nominees, and he would likely get relatively greater support from Democrats and Dem-leaning independents, but how many people would be interested in a candidate promising technocratic paternalism while defending corporate interests? I suspect there are very few people that would actually prefer him, and that seems true even if Trump and Sanders ended up as the nominees of the major parties. If Trump and Sanders are riding on a wave of revulsion with both Washington and Wall Street, Bloomberg would represent much of what their supporters hate most about our political system. If this election has been defined by popular rejection of the elite consensus, Bloomberg would be joining the race as the champion of the consensus millions of people are repudiating. While he wouldn’t have the personal baggage that Clinton has, his views seem guaranteed to make him unacceptable to just about every constituency.

I said before that a Bloomberg run would be awful but also instructive by showing us how little popular support for undiluted “centrist” corporatism there is, and my guess is that we would find out that there is almost no support for it among voters. A Bloomberg bid would be a godsend for many pundits that are allergic to partisanship and celebrate Washington consensus views, but it would probably amount to little more than an ill-advised ego trip.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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