Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Another Perot?

Back in 1992, H. Ross Perot's idealistic crusade for the presidency tapped into voters' unhappiness with the major-party candidates and their frets about the state of the country.

The result was his shaking-up of the race where he captured one of every five votes.

Could we see something like that again?

Not counting Ralph Nader and his incredibly misguided, foolish, erroneous and ill-advised attempts to keep candidates honest and speaking on issues important to him (last time Ralph – you’re screwing EVERYONE over when you run) this time it’s the talk of another independent run by another billionaire; New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

This news came as Democrat-turned-moron independent Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) said that a third-party candidate could emerge to shake things up unless the two major parties tackle the growing problem of partisanship that disaffects many voters.

Consider that there are even more similarities to 1992: we have an immensely unpopular Bush in the White House, a grossly dissatisfied public and a (still relatively) lackluster crop of presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle.

And the comparisons and similarities don’t stop there; Bloomberg, like Perot is a social liberal,a budget hawk, a self-made billionaire with a little eccentricity thrown in for good measure.

Granted, he runs on the Republican ticket, but Bloomberg is no Republican. He was a lifelong Democrat who switched parties so he could run for mayor more easily.

And like Perot, he can run against the two-party system as a reformer who can't be bought because he won’t have to be beholden to special interest groups.

I’ll be the first to admit that this is a very interesting possibility. As of now, the Democrats are fairly satisfied with their slate of candidates (more so the first and second tiers) but the republicans are not quite satisfied (at least not until Fred Thompson enters the race).

Bloomberg would be a very attractive candidate to a huge cross-section of voters and would take from both parties but would cause more havoc to republicans.

For what it’s worth, Bloomberg has denied any thoughts of running (almost as much as Al Gore has…) but the New York tabloids often quote “friends” of his that claim differently. But, as happened in 1992, voter disaffection with Washington — plus an estimated $5.3 billion personal fortune — has kept Mr. Bloomberg’s name alive as a candidate.

While Mr. Bloomberg is known for a get-it-done management style, he has riled some voters with his “nanny-state” initiatives such as banning smoking and trans-fats in restaurants (wait, did Richard Daley move to NYC?), but he also has won admirers for taking tough stands on other issues.

So will he run? I give it a 38% chance of that happening right now… but, after a few more months of the current crop sniping and slinging at each other, let’s see what happens.

Stay tuned…

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