June 21, 2007
By Alan W. Dowd
I’m not the first to react to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s self-important announcement that he is leaving the GOP with a shrug of the shoulders. I suspect more than a few casual observers were actually surprised to hear that Bloomberg was a Republican—and given his record in Gotham, I suspect the Republican faithful are saying, “Good riddance.”
After all, Bloomberg never really sounded or acted much like a Republican. Indeed, he seemed to run under the Republican banner for opportunistic reasons, riding Rudy Giuliani’s coattails to victory in a Democratic-dominated city.
Now he is breaking free from the “rigid adherence” of the party that helped pave his way to City Hall. “Any successful elected executive knows that real results are more important than partisan battles and that good ideas should take precedence over rigid adherence to any particular political ideology,” he declared in a statement.
Fair enough. It’s a free country and a free party. But when did the GOP ever force him to adhere—rigidly or otherwise—to anything?
As the always-helpful “On the Issues” website details, Bloomberg is far more liberal than the Republican Party’s conservative base—and even more liberal than mainstream America. For example:
-On the central issue of the day, he says that “Nobody wants the war in Iraq to continue, but how are you going to pull out, and what happens next?” No rigid adherence there—and not much in the way of thoughtful leadership, either. Contrast Bloomberg’s vacuous view to the hard line promised by Republican frontrunners Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson.
-Bloomberg supports abortion on demand and same-sex marriage. “Reproductive choice is a fundamental human right, and we can never take it for granted,” he has said. “On this issue, you’re either with us or against us,” he added for dramatic and smart-aleck effect. (How’s that for “rigid adherence”?) Not that the mayor cares, but more than 60 percent of the nation supports stricter limits on abortion or outlawing abortion altogether, according to a New York Times poll. In fact, an ABC/Washington Post survey revealed in December 2005 that a scant 17 percent of the country accepts what Bloomberg and the abortion lobby advocate—abortion with no limits or restrictions of any kind. As for same-sex marriage, about six in ten Americans oppose it.
-Bloomberg has levied European-style fees and charges on car usage in New York City, and he raised property taxes by some 18 percent to balance the budget and pay down the deficit.
-Taking a page from his paternalistic brethren on the left, he pushed for a ban on smoking and fatty foods in NYC.
-Finally, Bloomberg is for heavy-handed gun control laws. He even brought suit against gun dealers. “I don't know why people carry guns,” he has said, in the way that elites with security entourages and gated homes typically dismiss anyone primitive enough to stoop to owning a firearm.
In short, Bloomberg always seems to view social problems from the left—the responsibility lies not with the person who pulls the trigger, but with the gun manufacturer; not with the person eating 5,000 fat-saturated calories a day, but with the restaurant; not with the government for living beyond its means, but with the taxpayer.
This is not exactly the stuff that propelled Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush or George W. Bush (or for that matter, Bill Clinton) into the Oval Office.
Simply put, Mayor Bloomberg (I-N.Y.) does not much care for limited government or personal responsibility. And that’s OK for him and the people of New York City. But many other Americans—and most Republicans—want smaller government, practice personal responsibility, and distrust and dislike the paternalistic nanny state being erected by Bloomberg and those who know what’s best for us.
The Washington Postreports that Bloomberg’s exit “fuels speculation about an independent bid for the White House.” True. He obviously has the ego and the cash—and the requisite yes-men—to make a run for president and save America from its partisan poison. According to The Post, confidants of the billionaire mayor say he is prepared to spend up to half-a-billion dollars to win the presidency—or, if you prefer, rent the White House for four years.
Those who worry about another Clinton presidency should be cheering Bloomberg’s likely entry into the 2008 race. Like the last billionaire third-party candidate, Ross Perot, Bloomberg will peel away votes from other candidates. But given the above litany of left-of-center positions, Bloomberg isn’t going to siphon any votes away from Thompson, McCain or Romney. He could hurt Giuliani a bit. But in a three-way race that would force voters to contrast Giuliani with Clinton and Bloomberg, Rudy would seem downright Reaganesque.
I had better stop there—the prospect of three New Yorkers on the presidential ballot may have overloaded my PC.