I have said more than once that the presidential campaign and its outcome could well depend on what is happening in the larger political environment over the coming year. And that environment isn’t entirely predictable. It can change in unanticipated ways. And these changes can quickly alter – even turn upside down – the election terrain and the prospects of candidates, parties, and the coalitions and movements that support them.
A downward slide of the global economy, for example, isn’t out of the question, according to economist Larry Summers. If it happens, it will undoubtedly change the dynamics of the elections in significant ways. Much the same could be said about another terrorist attack.
And this morning we are greeted with the news that Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York and billionaire, is considering a run for the White House as an independent. Bloomberg, according to the NYT, is exasperated especially by Donald Trump on the right and by Bernie Sanders on the left.
If it goes beyond a trial balloon and Bloomberg enters the race, it too will shake things up. While prudence tells me to wait before offering any opinion, my initial reaction is that his candidacy would disadvantage the presidential run of the Democratic nominee, be it Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton – not to mention the broad democratic movement that hopes to defeat the right and emerge out of this year’s elections on higher ground.
In the 1992 presidential campaign, the independent candidacy of Ross Perot, another billionaire by the way, hurt the reelection bid of the elder George Bush, thus helping a relative newcomer to national politics – Bill Clinton – win the presidency. A Bloomberg presidential run, I suspect, would cut the other way, making it more difficult for the Democratic nominee to win the White House as well as weakening the leverage of the broader people movement in the post election period.