New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg doesn’t understand the problem with the two major parties. After announcing he wouldn’t seek the presidency as a third party candidate, he suggested he would support a major party candidate who leveled with the American people about the issues facing the country. Unfortunately, major party candidates are prisoners of their own parties.
Those running on a major party ticket need the support of party activists who often have an unrealistic oversimplified view of issues. These activists want candidates who will at least give lip service to their views. Many of these activists are what longshoreman Eric Hofer once described as “True Believers” who believe they are right and anyone who disagrees is wrong.
Democrats, for example, want a candidate who will end U.S. involvement in Iraq regardless of the consequences. They don’t care what happens afterwards because they cannot comprehend any negative consequences such as al Qaeda taking control of Iraq or the substantial number of American casualties that might result from a precipitous retreat from a combat zone.
Many Republicans want all illegal immigrants removed from the country regardless of the economic consequences. They would prefer to endure a severe recession or depression than have to share the country with “illegals”. The anti-immigrant group doesn’t understand that we have a shortage of younger workers and will need even more workers as the baby boomer generation retires.
Bloomberg has no national constituency that he could encourage to support either major party candidate so his offer of support to one of them is meaningless. Bloomberg can change the situation only if he runs for president himself. As a third party candidate he would be free to take any position on the issues he felt was appropriate.
Only by running for president Bloomberg could demonstrate that Americans want a candidate who levels with them. Of course maybe Bloomberg is wrong. Maybe Americans prefer a president who lies to them. Maybe they want a president who tells them what they want to hear instead of what they need to know.