“Clinton is not flawless; no candidate is. But she is the responsible choice”
Yes, Bloomberg just had to say, “Let’s elect a sane, competent person.” Image via Getty Images
The themes of this week’s Democratic National Convention—optimism, sophistication, sanity—in Philadelphia couldn’t be more at odds with the apocalyptic streak we witnessed in Cleveland last week. Yet there are millions of people out there who still feel they can’t find representation on either side of the political aisle.
Many voters, including those who describe themselves as moderate, have mistrusted Hillary Clinton since the 1990s. Maybe they voted for George W. Bush but responded more to Ronald Reagan’s soaring, optimistic take on America’s future; they’re fiscally conservative but like to think of themselves as socially liberal; they don’t necessarily believe in big government, yet their inherent kindness is at odds with the bomb-throwing rhetoric and selective religiosity driving the contemporary GOP. Which candidate speaks for them?
[quote position="right" is_quote="true"]Bloomberg’s only political affiliation? Reason. (Ok, and capitalism.) [/quote]
Enter Michael Bloomberg—former mayor of New York City, tireless gun control advocate, and one of the most successful businessmen in America. He flirted with a run as an independent, but his Clinton-endorsing speech last night, delivered during primetime at the DNC, ended up being one of many olive branches extended to Republicans who have been ostracized by their party’s turn toward extremism.
Bloomberg’s only political affiliation? Reason. (Ok, and capitalism.) But according to Bloomberg’s argument, there’s a strong, respectful case to made against Donald Trump—and for Hillary Clinton—that appeals to independent thinkers and moderate Republicans who feel they’ve been left without options this election season:
When the Founding Fathers arrived here in Philadelphia to forge a new nation, they didn't come as Democrats or Republicans, or to nominate a presidential candidate. They came as patriots who feared party politics. I know how they felt. I've been a Democrat, I've been a Republican, and I eventually became an independent because I don't believe either party has a monopoly on good ideas or strong leadership.
Not a huge fan of the government? Hate political parties? That’s fine. It doesn’t mean you have to support a homegrown demagogue in protest.
Throughout his career, Trump has left behind a well-documented record of bankruptcies, thousands of lawsuits, angry shareholders, contractors who feel cheated, and disillusioned customers who feel ripped off. Trump says he wants to run the nation like he's run his business. God help us.
Trump is not a good businessman. He just plays one on television. He has no experience with economic crises, no former workers or associates willing to praise him in public. Fewer than 20 percent of public companies with assets of $1 billion or more have filed for bankruptcy. It happens, but it’s certainly nothing to brag about. When customers and contractors form class-action lawsuits against you over multiple decades, something is fundamentally wrong.
I'm a New Yorker, and New Yorkers know a con when we see one! Trump says he'll punish manufacturers that move to Mexico or China, but the clothes he sells are made overseas in low-wage factories. He says he wants to put Americans back to work, but he games the US visa system so he can hire temporary foreign workers at low wages. He says he wants to deport 11 million undocumented people, but he seems to have no problem in hiring them.
The division between what Trump says and does is the lowest form of hypocrisy. He is more concerned with telling you what you want to hear than following up on what he’s promised. He takes advantage of globalization in order to profit, yet he rails against it in speeches. How can one be an advocate for both the working and jobless poor who feel left behind, while making his money overseas and behind their backs? I’ll tell you how: He doesn’t actually want to be president. He just wants to sell you something.
I understand the appeal of a businessman president. But Trump's business plan is a disaster in the making. He would make it harder for small businesses to compete, do great damage to our economy, threaten the retirement savings of millions of Americans, lead to greater debt and more unemployment, erode our influence in the world, and make our communities less safe.
Trump has claimed, “I’ve borrowed knowing that you can pay back with discounts. I would borrow knowing that if the economy crashed, you could make a deal.” That’s his entire economic plan: Rack up debt with no intention of paying it back. If the worst case happens, hey, even America can file for bankruptcy! (Except it can’t, really?) His immigration plan alone would shrink the US economy by 2 percent. He hasn’t proposed any real cuts to defense, veteran benefits, Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid. That’s the bulk of government spending. Debt will continue to grow even if he does nothing.
Now, I know Hillary Clinton is not flawless; no candidate is. But she is the right choice—and the responsible choice—in this election. No matter what you may think about her politics or her record, Hillary Clinton understands that this is not reality television; this is reality. She understands the job of president.
Ok, so not the most inspiring message, but a realistic portrayal of Hillary Clinton’s strengths and weaknesses speaks to independent voters. She is inarguably qualified—she has a successful political record beyond Nielsen ratings. She is respected internationally and, despite what Republicans say during election cycles, within Congress by both parties. She works with people rather than slapping them in the face. A basic idea, but a fundamental one: The presidency is not about winning a popularity contest. It’s about having the temperament and skillset to handle the job, to execute fresh ideas, to cut deals and keep the country safe.
America is the greatest country on earth—and when people vote with their feet, they come here. The presidency of the United States is the most powerful office in the world, and so I say to my fellow independents: Your vote matters now. Your vote will determine the future of your job, your business, and our future together as a country.
Trump’s song is one of broken America, of civil war, of fearing the outside world. He plays on fear and a vague nostalgia for a non-existent past, but people all over the globe still look to the United States as a model rather than a bully to pay tribute to. Why don’t our own citizens?
Independent voters in swing states will yet again determine our presidential future. That’s why Bloomberg spoke in primetime and New York City’s current mayor—the strongly leftist Bill de Blasio—was a mere warm-up act. Party die-hards make lots of noise, but while they cheer and jeer at conventions, independents want someone with a reasonable, steady hand.
[quote position="left" is_quote="true"]In 2016, there’s only one rational choice, and that’s Hillary Clinton. Everything else, including not voting, is a vote for Trump.[/quote]
Truth is, in most elections, either candidate would be fine. The economy wouldn’t crash; the world wouldn’t end. But here’s the Bloombergian viewpoint: In 2016, there’s only one rational choice, and that’s Hillary Clinton. Everything else, including not voting, is a vote for Trump. Facts may be unfashionable, but they are still the basis of reason, which is still the best tool we have as Americans to not inadvertently destroy ourselves.
Bloomberg may not love Hillary, but he knows how to make a logical choice. In 2016, the answer is beyond debate.