Michael Bloomberg, former Republican-turned-independent mayor of New York, has declared that he might enter the 2016 presidential race. Bloomberg would run as an independent, but looking at his tenure as mayor of New York, he might best seen as a "classic liberal."
Could a Bloomberg candidacy bring a restoration of classic liberalism?
In gauging his chances, four questions might be asked: Does he have the money? Yes. Does he have the time? Maybe. Is he able to influence the younger generation, which is drawn to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) two to one? Hard to say. Will he play in the heartland, where new voters have turned to rising party dissidents and insurgent entrepreneur Donald Trump (R)? Hard to say.
It was indeed Bloomberg's house, but the most representative figure of that time and long before, the alpha dog in the house, might have been the pugnacious novelist Norman Mailer. A remembrance of Mailer in Salon after Mailer's death in 2007 gives a feeling for what a classic liberal house looked like in those very good days. Writers, philosophers, characters and celebrities like Arthur Miller, Lillian Ross, Irving Howe, Gore Vidal, Germaine Greer, Christopher Isherwood, Diana Trilling, Norman Podhoretz, Alfred Kazan, Paul Krassner, Ultra Violet and Edmund Wilson were among those who shared in Mailer's big house.
Who speaks for New York today? Lena Dunham? Anthony Weiner?
Bloomberg, like Mailer and the others, was a product of those times. Can Bloomberg restore that house, those times? Can he change not only the trajectory of this race to 2016, but the culture of America?
Possibly, with a little help from his friends. He might bring in his own crew of independents to bring the challenge, people who have been toying with the idea of a third party or independent run this past decade. People like former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I) of Connecticut. People like Sen. Angus King (I) of Maine. People like Jim Webb (D), former Virginia senator, who is also said to be thinking of an independent run this season.
If Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton drops out or is pushed out, Bloomberg and friends could stage an impressive run in a new cultural space, although right now he is given only 12 percent in one poll between Trump and Sanders. Clinton says she has a "secret weapon," meaning her husband, former President Bill Clinton. But Bloomberg has a secret weapon as well: best bud Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Republican governor of California, who shared the cover of TIME magazine with Bloomberg in June 2007, with the blaring headline, "Who needs Washington? How a billionaire mayor and a celebrity governor are showing what it takes to get things done."
It looked like the future belonged to them in 2007, and maybe it could again. But with the election of Barack Obama, everything changed. The heartland kicked. New Hampshire State Rep. Dan Itse (R) brought a unique states' rights challenge to the federal government's right to institute ObamaCare and 30-some states spontaneously joined the challenge.
The idea caught on. Virtually overnight, there were tax revolts, tax rallies, tea parties and healthcare reform protests, which continue today. Gerald Celente of Trends 2000 called it a "Second American Revolution." Commentator Pat Caddell said America had entered into a "pre-revolutionary" state.
This week, Caddell said in an interview in Breitbart News Daily that:
There is no evidence that this is an election about ideology. It is an election about insurgency.
The real paradigm in this race is a race between those who think that the political class has raped the country — and done it for their own benefit while most Americans suffer ... who believe their country is in decline, who want it reversed, that is the real issue in this campaign.
In truth, this is what Bloomberg faces: Insurgent America. And it is an America which despises his position on guns and other issues and to some degree sees him as the high avatar of liberal sensibilities. Yet oddly enough, the heartland insurgents have turned to Donald Trump. A race as unlikely and unpredictable as this could turn like quicksilver.
Bloomberg should run if only to allow classic liberalism to awaken again, as with Clinton and Sanders the Democrats have no fallback position. And with Trump, neither do the Republicans.
Quigley is a prize-winning writer who has worked more than 35 years as a book and magazine editor, political commentator and reviewer. For 20 years he has been an amateur farmer, raising Tunis sheep and organic vegetables. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and four children. Contact him at email@example.com.