Why Bloomberg 2016 would be so much fun

A Trump-Bloomberg faceoff would sure be cathartic

Michael Bloomberg will decide this March whether or not to join the presidential race.
(Image credit: Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

So, Mike Bloomberg is considering a run for president? The odds are long, but the logic makes a kind of sense. If the Democrats nominate Bernie Sanders and the Republicans nominate Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, there would be a real opening for the billionaire former New York mayor.

So, let's have it. Run, Mike, run. Would it be in the best interests of the country for him to run? Probably not. Would it be in the best interests of the country for him to be president? Oh, hell no. Would it be a heck of a lot of fun? You bet.

The great thing about Bloomberg is that he's so intimately convinced of the greatness of Mike Bloomberg, and that makes him a great candidate to watch. He's going to run unapologetically as himself — finance and media mogul, gun-hater, tobacco and big-gulp-hater, and paragon of ploutocracy. I can just see the ads. "I'll fix the Federal government like I fixed New York." "It's time to get rid of politicians and elect someone who knows how to get things done." "Get ready to get stopped and frisked for guns in Topeka." (Okay, maybe not that one.)

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More importantly and more starkly, the great thing about a Bloomberg candidacy, especially against Trump, is that it would lay bare the social divide that cuts through the heart of America, which is obscured by its partisan coalitions. Both parties straddle the rich and the poor. The Democrats are the party of African Americans, increasingly Latinos, urban elites, and some super-rich. The Republicans are the party of the white working class and the other kinds of super-rich. This means neither party speaks exactly to one of the most important divides at the heart of American society.

And that divide is simple: It is between the winners and losers of the twin forces of globalization and social liberalism.

Globalization and technological change have made many people increasingly rich, even as they have made the economic lives of countless people much less secure. And social liberalism has had a similar impact, creating winners and losers. The winners are those who are economically secure enough to enjoy multiple sexual partners and "unusual" family arrangements without suffering (too) dire consequences. For the losers, economic changes and the sexual revolution have meant broken families and communities and social decline. It's almost as if social liberalism were a form of class warfare.

A Trump-Bloomberg faceoff would be a contest between those two slices of American society: the great winners and the great losers. Trump, clearly, is the candidate of the losers of this game, with his focus on immigration and trade, and even his macho in a de-macho-ized culture (and his macho appeals to women too!). And Bloomberg is the candidate of the winners: the people who can afford to live in New York and want poor people to get stopped and frisked so they can enjoy the nice parks and bike lanes.

Neither of the candidates would make a good president, but it just might be the election America needs to clarify who the winners and who the losers are, and just how different they've become, and just how much their interests have diverged.

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