Coalitions remain essential
Coalitions are essential if a political party is to achieve success. Sometimes they are made by mixing and matching with appeals to groups that maybe do not get along with others in the organization. Franklin Roosevelt constructed a victory by depending on southern segregationist, labor unions, Catholics and northern blacks. It was a tried and true formula that produced four electoral triumphs.
But sometimes the price of building a winning coalition can also help dislodge essential principles from party messaging. In the Democratic race, the desire to defeat Donald Trump is so strong that it might impact how it intends to govern. Michael Bloomberg’s candidacy certainly tests the limits of political tolerance.
Not only did he support George W. Bush in 2004, he gave considerable sums to the Republican party. Bloomberg belonged to the Pat Toomey wing of the GOP, heavy on deficit reduction and low on vision domestically. Now he contributed a great deal of money to the 2019 midterm success by Democrats which allowed them to take over the House of Representatives. But Bloomberg is clearly in the category of a George W. Bush Democrat which some appear to embrace. Not since Jimmy Carter has a Democrat appeared so business friendly.
Bloomberg’s position on stop and frisk, his foreign policy preferences all run toward country-club Republicanism. Although he is not comfortable with Trump, he would have been happy with Ronald Reagan. Of course centrist Democrats have become enamored of former Republican presidents only when they have been replaced by people they loathe at the moment. Trump begat Bush and Bush begat Reagan in the minds of Democrats falling in love with ex-Republican presidencies.
Certainly some Democrats like Bill Clinton’s advisors James Carville and Chris Matthews would be happy with Bloomberg because he “can win.” And they despise Bernie Sanders so much that they are willing to countenance “red baiting” in order to stop him. Of course these operatives of past years have grown in stature and their wealth has increased. Now they only embrace feel good issues not economic justice. Moreover they have become foreign policy hawks always on the lookout for Russian aggression.
Bloomberg for them is perfect, sound in his business acumen and reliable in desiring to advance capitalism. Also he is not beyond telling people how to live from hectoring them on guns or telling them what to order to drink. Do not supersize me please. His libertarianism only extends to the rich and upper middle class, the rest must fall into line.
But Bloomberg’s appeal that he is not Trump may prove successful. But like many in his class, he does not offer policies but himself. If he wants to govern, he has to shed the only thing he shares with Trump, an imperious nature. And it would not hurt if he would learn a little about the Democratic party.