Saturday, May 19, 2007

More Gridlock?

Sorry, Katrina, I'm going to (gently) critique something you posted about.

This morning, Reuters posted a substantial "think-piece" about the prospects of a legitimate third party run for the White House by Senator Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Republican of New York City.

I think it's safe to say a few things:

1) This would be a welcome development for those of us who are tired of the same two parties dominating the political landscape, year in and year out.

2) Michael Bloomberg is a Republican in name only, having swapped affiliations in 2001 when he saw a golden opportunity to skip a primary and run directly in the general election. Effectively, the Dems exhausted their legitimate chances by holding a fairly raucous, nasty primary, which also drained their coffers. Against a billionaire, this is a no-no.

3) The ticket is doomed to failure, even if it wins.

On this last point, think about Ross Perot. The last independent candidate who had a legitimate shot at the White House, he ultimately revealed his vanity and psychosis during the 1992 campaign (and quickly withered on the vine in 1996).

Now think about Ross Perot winning, and trying to govern. He would have gotten nothing in terms of compromise from Congress, and that was before 14 years of Republican hackery created a monstrously bloated collective partisan ego that is our Congress.

You begin to see the problems with a Bloomberg/Hagel, or Hagel/Bloomberg ticket. Further evidence, specifically Senator Joe Lieberman's re-election in 2006, suggests that Hagel would be ostracized by his current party, as would Bloomberg.

For Bloomberg, this would be less of an issue, since he has never been seriously considered anything but a convenient nuisance by the GOP elite, as Republican mayor of the city devastated by Al Qaeda.

For Hagel, who would be selling his ability to work with Congress and his legislative experience during the campaign, this would be disastrous. Republicans would shun him, and Democrats would be uneasy about welcoming any of his thoughts.

The last five election cycles going back to 1988 have demonstrated that Americans have flirted with gridlock, and found it wanting. Specifically, Americans have elected incompetent Republicans at the adminstrative and legislative levels, who have basically vowed to pray our problems go away, while lording tax cuts on their benefactors. This problem that Unity '08 proposes to solve may already be correcting itself.

And even for Mike Bloomberg, a billion dollars is a lot to spend for an object lesson.