Remember Michael Bloomberg?
Bloomberg, the billionaire former three-term mayor of New York, at one time considered running for president of the United States as an independent, saying he could not stomach Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders as our nation’s top leader.
Bloomberg, 74, in March decided not to seek the presidency, for a couple of reasons. One, Hillary Clinton – a longtime friend of his – is the likely Democratic nominee.
The other reason is much more ominous. In an editorial announcing his decision, he offered this commentary:
“… When I look at the data, it’s clear to me that if I entered the race, I could not win. I believe I could win a number of diverse states — but not enough to win the 270 Electoral College votes necessary to win the presidency.
In a three-way race, it’s unlikely any candidate would win a majority of electoral votes, and then the power to choose the president would be taken out of the hands of the American people and thrown to Congress. The fact is, even if I were to receive the most popular votes and the most electoral votes, victory would be highly unlikely, because most members of Congress would vote for their party’s nominee. Party loyalists in Congress — not the American people or the Electoral College — would determine the next president.”
Bloomberg argues that the two-party system effectively eliminates any third-party or independent candidate from ever winning the presidency.
We, the registered voters in the United States, do not elect the president. Let’s call a spade a spade. The Electoral College does.
According to a federal government website, http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/about.html, “the Electoral College is a process, not a place. The founding fathers established it in the Constitution as a compromise between election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens …
“The Electoral College consists of 538 electors. A majority of 270 electoral votes is required to elect the President. Your state’s entitled allotment of electors equals the number of members in its Congressional delegation: one for each member in the House of Representatives plus two for your Senators …
Who selects the Electors?
“The process for selecting Electors varies throughout the United States. Generally, the political parties nominate Electors at their State party conventions or by a vote of the party’s central committee in each State. Each candidate will have their own unique slate of potential Electors as a result of this part of the selection process.
“Electors are often chosen to recognize service and dedication to their political party. They may be State-elected officials, party leaders, or persons who have a personal or political affiliation with the Presidential candidate.”
So, the Electoral College itself is highly political, and if it couldn’t determine our next president, then Congress would.
Which leaves us with the likely choice of either Donald Trump, the Republican, or Hillary Clinton, the Democrat.
I profiled each of them in January in this blog:
While both have passionate followers, both also have high disapproval ratings. When I vote in November, will I support one of them – or will I vote against one of them? An anti-vote is no way to elect our president, but it could happen.
Last fall, a liberal columnist I follow railed against Trump. I commented on one of her posts, saying, in essence, that Trump eventually will say something so revolting that the American people will reject him before he becomes a serious candidate. Just chill, I wrote.
Obviously, I was wrong. I misjudged the deep-seated hatred of politics-as-usual among many, many of us.
Clinton represents the political establishment, although as a woman, many see her as a ground-breaker as well.
How did we get here? Most of us are not happy with either candidate, and yet our “democracy” leaves no room for any third voice.
Perhaps by the 2020 election, both political parties will be forced to listen to the rest of us.
Whoever wins in November will not have a groundswell of support from a majority of Americans. He or she will have to convince us to follow.
And how will Congress react? Will the next president be able to pass his or her favorite policies, or will political gridlock get even worse than it is now?
As frightening as this sounds, perhaps Congress will be our savior. The president is not a dictator. Congress holds the purse strings. Congress can say yay or nay on policy proposals.
This fall, 469 seats in the U.S. Congress – 34 Senate seats and all 435 House seats – are up for election. Let’s not get so caught up in presidential politics that we ignore these races.
Will this country swing back to the center any time soon?
I hope so. We can’t let the extremists on either side ruin this country. We are too big and too strong for that.