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Political Action: Bloomberg wrong to dismiss party system

The main approach that Bloomberg is using in his move toward becoming a candidate is to be critical of the American political party system and the government leaders that the elections produce. He speaks about excessive partisanship and the influence of special interest groups. However, he himself is not contributing to political unity of purpose when at the recent University of Oklahoma forum he was quoted as saying, "America has lost its vision and become afraid because its political leaders don't have the guts to stake out unpopular positions and embrace big ideas."It should be mentioned that political leaders of both major parties, in addition to expressing big ideas and unpopular positions, do have some obligation to represent and express the views of the people who elected them.Bloomberg had earlier said, "I don't think either national party stands for anything." His main attack on the political party system occurred in 2003 when he tried to have a citywide referendum passed whereby candidates running for city public office could do so without party designation. That initiative was defeated by the voters of New York City by a vote of 70 percent to 30 percent. Bloomberg in the past has been quick to refer to political party leaders as bosses. Regardless of how Bloomberg feels about the existence of political parties and their effect on the American political landscape, there has to be some type of political organizational structure to nominate candidates, get them on the ballot and give support to their campaigns. Whether this organizational structure is called a political party or something else, it is necessary - that is, unless we want extremely rich candidates like Mike Bloomberg who can afford to put together their own political organizations completely under their control with little input from the people at the grassroots level.Although Bloomberg is quick to criticize American political leaders for not having the guts to take unpopular positions and express big ideas, he himself has not been forthcoming in speaking out in detail about important national issues, especially in the field of foreign policy. He has not expressed specific views on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That is something he is going to have to do if he becomes a presidential candidate.At this time, Bloomberg's people have been in contact with a firm in Austin, Texas, that specializes in gathering political petition signatures. It is estimated that Bloomberg will need close to 2 million signatures to get on the ballot in all 50 states as his possible presidential candidacy is moving forward.It should be noted that former Gov. George Pataki's main political operative and spokeswoman Zenia Mucha, who played a prominent role during the early part of his administration, has been in contact with Bloomberg's staff. It remains to be seen if she will get directly involved in Bloomberg's presidential bid. At any rate, the time is rapidly approaching when Mayor Bloomberg, in response to questions about whether he is going to run for president, is going to have to give a more comprehensive answer than simply saying, "I am not a candidate."In Florida, the voters gave their verdict to Rudy Giuliani regarding his presidential bid. They brought it to an early conclusion. His strategy of putting most of his efforts into Florida, with its large group of former New Yorkers, did not succeed. In the closing weeks of the campaign he tried to project the image of "Mr. Nice Guy." He even called himself a conservative Republican. He tried to take advantage of the Florida early-voting system. It was all to no avail. Possibly he became overconfident by his early lead in the polls when he decided to bypass the early primaries and concentrate on Florida. However, he now joins a long list of former New York City mayors who have tried and failed to obtain higher office. It will be interesting to see if he has ambitions to again seek elective office.

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