Dropping clips of cash on independent candidates seems like a great cause at first glance. But, who's to say it will really work?
Bloomberg, looking for a legacy and relevancy beyond New York Mayorship, has the loot and room to risk it. He gets rounds of applause for the reported $10-15 million grip he's pushing towards a Super PAC effort as he attempts to put his skin in the election game. The move is laudable, but a bit disjointed since it insinuates the creation of something much bigger than simply throwing dough at partisan candidates who dig the occasional bi-partisan groove. Casual observers will figure it's really a third party play, which makes it all the more confusing. And since Big Mike has a reputation for flirting with the Third rail, the numbers currently work against him. A little less than half of Americans, 46 percent, describe an urge for a third party -- compared to 45 percent who feel the current parties are doing a good enough job, according to a September Gallup survey.
Interestingly enough, Gallup says 58 percent of Americans were leaning the third way between 2007 and 2010. Somewhere between midterm House Republicans rising and now, the political environment became so volatile that the number fell fast and hard. Any number of reasons could explain that, one being that voters are now feeling snug and fit in their political silos. An unfortunate consequence of the two party system.
The fact of the matter is that Bloomberg has his work cut out for him if it's just an exercise in cutting checks. He'll have a number of challenges to overcome: partisan candidates have issues wrestling themselves away from party bosses. Few are brave enough to cross the aisle, even when there's a clear national or constituent imperative. It's indicative of why most individuals get into politics in the first place... or how they end up getting trapped in a shameless cycle of climbing the political ladder in endless power grabs to the top. In the end, everyone wants to sit in the Big Chair.
One would hope that he's going the distance on this. Perhaps the ultimate plan is creating more than just an influence-spreading Super PAC to keep access intact. Maybe this could blossom into a real Third Way, a grooming platform for practical leadership looking for solutions rather than spots on talk shows.
Not so much hope thus far because the current moves look like partisan regurgitation. He's tapped none other than ... well ... a party person to spearhead the effort, Howard Wolfson, a former Hillary Clinton for 2008 Communications Director and now serving Bloomberg in the same capacity. Right now, it smells a lot like the very confusing Americans Elect hustle that finally managed a big $500,000 campaign ad buy on behalf of independent Senate candidate Angus King in Maine. But, it's hard to see anything truly revolutionary or "third party" out of any of these outfits if all they're just pushing a revolving door of Democratic and Republican same-os attempting career recalibrations. Politics have become very crowded these days, with every blogger Dick, Jane, Harry and Tameka believing they're a hot-shot strategist. The true professionals feel a bit crowded out these days as the market saturates.
The other problem here is that nearly half of all Americans say they want independence in their elected representatives -- yet we embrace the malice of polarizing politics and tit-for-tat. 46 percent want a "third party," but only 4 percent really take money to market at the polling place in terms of "severely" independent candidates (since we're going there). Polling says Americans want solutions. Yeah, right. Look no farther than the narcissistic killing fields of countless social media "mavens" and their "followers" spreading meanness and demagoguery. Ironic that Facebook "friends" and "likes" when the digital hate is as abundant as it is. We now hide behind handles, avatars and punch-lines.
Truly independent or third party candidates don't help the situation any when they bless incumbents with fringe positions and unhinged personalities. But, there are quite a few egotistical wing nuts on both sides of the conventional two-party aisle, as well. The difference is one set of candidates and elected pols have the resources to run while the other doesn't.
Bloomberg hopes to re-shape that equation. But, in doing so, one wonders if he'll address it in a politics-as-usual way or if actually inject unorthodox method and freshness to the game.