WASHINGTON — Inquiring minds want to know. Is Michael “Mike” Bloomberg for real? Could he be elected president in November?
Probably not. But anything is possible. Keep an eye on him.
Bloomberg made $60 billion inventing a computer terminal that tracks stocks. Like Donald Trump, who was a New Yorker for life until his tax law lowered his state deductions, causing him to move to Florida which has no state income tax, Bloomberg also is from New York. The two men loathe each other. And Bloomberg intends to spend $1 billion to try to defeat Trump, whether he’s the Democratic Party nominee or not.
That is the thing. The Democratic Party is so fractured between liberals and establishment types that it wants to mess this election up its own way. It does not want an “outsider” (Bloomberg was a Republican when he was the three-term mayor of New York City) coming in and “buying” the nomination.
Also, Bloomberg was mayor when “stop and frisk” was imposed in New York, permitting police officers to stop citizens (read: mainly blacks and Hispanics) for whatever reason they could think of and check them for guns. Surprisingly, in a nationwide poll Bloomberg took 22% of the approval of African Americans away from former Vice President Joe Biden, who seems to have lost his get-up-and-go momentum to get the nomination, coming in an embarrassing fifth in New Hampshire.
We have no idea yet which wing of the party will prevail, if either. The candidates are rising and falling weekly, but the party hasn’t fallen in love yet.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, who came in second in Iowa and first in New Hampshire, is not even a Democrat. He calls himself a democratic socialist, which makes Trump chortle with glee. Wait until Trump sets out to “define” for America what that means. It will come out sounding like something akin to communism on steroids.
But Sanders has received only a fourth of the Democratic votes cast thus far, and fewer voters have chosen him than in 2016. Even though a national poll says he would beat Trump in a face off, that is not how our electoral system works. Popular vote doesn’t determine the winner. (Ask Hillary Clinton, who got almost 3 million more votes than Trump did in 2016 but lost the Electoral College big time.)
According to the Quinnipiac Poll, Bloomberg would win over Trump by nine points. Again, we don’t elect the president by a national popular vote. Fresh off an impeachment acquittal, with a decent economy, the power of the federal government, huge amounts of money and a big bag of dirty tricks, Trump is already campaigning hard in states he needs to win. Bloomberg hasn’t even been on a ballot yet
But Bloomberg is everything Trump is not — civil, thoughtful, visionary and self-made (Trump inherited his money and filed six times for bankruptcy). He is liberal on social issues and conservative on economic issues. Many think it would be refreshing to have a tantrum-free adult as president.
Bloomberg has also led national efforts for new gun laws and against smoking and sugary soft drinks, which undoubtedly would lead Trump to dub him a national nanny.
Bloomberg boasts that as mayor he cut the number of uninsured New Yorkers by 40% and increased the graduation rate by 42%. He helped rebuild the city after 9/11.
By one reporter’s estimation, Bloomberg is spending $38 a second on national ads with his own money. He vows to take not one dime from special interests, insisting, “we’re not just going to win in 2020 — we’re going to win clean.”
If elected, he promises to “save Obamacare” and guarantee everyone health care while letting those who like their current insurance keep it. He says he will protect Social Security and Medicare and “create good jobs with good wages.” He insists he will shepherd commonsense gun safety reforms through Congress and “finally take climate change seriously.”
Millions of Americans are ready for a serious fight this autumn over real issues with real plans and real numbers on how to pay for health care, education, infrastructure and new research and development to keep America ahead in the global economic challenge.
A race between Bloomberg and Trump could be interesting and informative for the country because Bloomberg most likely would not permit Trump to get away with a reality TV show of distractions, nasty slurs and nicknames.
There is now an even chance we will find out.
Ann McFeatters is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may send her email at firstname.lastname@example.org.