Thursday, August 04, 2011

A socially useful 3rd party presidential bid?

In the last few weeks, New York's billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been dishing out vast hunks of cash to constituencies that need at the very least to be neutralized if a person who has been a Republican (now an independent, before all that a Democrat) were to make a run for the White House. On July 24, he passed along $50 million to the Sierra Club to fight coal plants. Today the NY Times reports "Bloomberg to Use Own Funds in Plan to Aid Minority Youth" -- to the tune of $30 million for a city program to try to connect African American and Latino young men to potential employers. (If there are any such employers, I have to add.)

At a moment when everyone from the vacuous Times columnist Tom Friedman to most voters watching Washington antics wish there was another way forward, maybe Bloomberg thinks he can make a go at being an attractive alternative who has not completely denied realities like climate change and racialized urban poverty, realities that neither party dares address at all.

Bloomberg took a brief run at a third party bid in 2008 -- maybe this time around the country is ready for a 69 year old billionaire? (After all, we just tried a fresh youthful face and got what appears a damn slow learning curve opposed by a bunch of lunatics.) And the Times article linked above indicates that, at least in that initiative, Bloomberg has fellow billionaire George Soros on the program with him.

Somehow, at a time when the richest one percent of earners grab nearly 25 percent of the country's income, it seems natural that rich men should think they could buy their way to saner policies. It's worked fairly well for New York City, or at least for Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn. That is, if you set aside the damage to democratic (small "d") principles that comes with changing the rules of the game for an incumbent mayor (term limits were overturned to give Bloomberg a third term) and with the inhibition of communities from growing their own new leaders. But hey -- the guys with money don't have to do all that messy politicking. ...

I don't think this will actually go anywhere; the inertia in the system is likely to keep working. Maybe 2016? Bloomberg would only be 74. Anyway I hope Bloomberg keeps spreading his wealth around -- if we aren't allowed to tax the rich as the price of their citizenship, we need their vanity campaigns.

UPDATE: The Times has followed up by checking out response to Bloomberg's initiative for Black and Brown male youth employment in some of the neighborhoods.

“I’m glad to see somebody’s actually mentioning the words ‘young men’ and ‘color’ in the same sentence as ‘funding,’ ” said Danny R. Peralta, director for arts and education at The Point Community Development Corporation in the Bronx.

Still, Mr. Peralta worried that the money would just graze the surface of the problem. “If you can’t wake up in the morning to some food or if you can’t get some counseling for whatever traumas you’ve been experiencing,” he said, “it is not going to reach you.”


Rain said...

Despite my disappointment in Obama, I don't want any third party who can take votes from him getting someone like Romney or Palin in the presidency. Now if say Trump would run, that would appeal to me a lot as it'd guarantee Obama!

janinsanfran said...

Yeah -- I'm not happy about the idea of a Bloomberg run -- or any 3rd party candidacy. But I don't think there will be a serious one. Ovf course I could be wrong.

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