Bloomberg, Progressives, and 2012

Rachel Lauter

A lot has been written about whether or not New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is preparing himself for a presidential run in 2012. His recent advocacy on gun control (including this pretty awesome and brazen undercover sting at an Arizona gun show), and his calls for federal immigration reform, are certainly plays to shape the policy agenda, and might be an effort to garner support from the left-leaning electorate. They are also likely an effort to reaffirm his reputation for competency in governance after a few missteps this fall and winter, including a politically contentious appointment for school chancellor and the failure to properly prepare for and respond to a snowpocalypse.

But progressives are certainly not in agreement on their feelings about Mayor Bloomberg. On the one hand, progressives, historically and currently, value commitment to good government. Mayor Bloomberg regularly triumphs his efforts to make New York City government more transparent, accessible, and accountable. These include the launch of 3-1-1, New York City’s information hotline, his calls for the depoliticization of the Board of Elections in New York City, and his general support of post-partisan politics. On the other hand, Mayor Bloomberg has refused to disparage Wall Street, and has generally been critical of financial regulation reform. If Bloomberg does make the calculation that the progressive community is essentially to his potential success as a candidate (which is a big “if”), it will be interesting to see what kind of policy positions he takes up. In a time when both sides of the aisle seem to be adopting some populist rhetoric (even if they are not adopting populist policy), will Mayor Bloomberg do the same? Does he need to to be a viable national candidate? Finally, some have argued that a independent Bloomberg candidacy paves the way for a Republican victory. Will the left decide that there is too much at stake to let that happen?

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