More and more, in talking with my friends, I hear the constant refrain, “I don’t want to live like this anymore!” In short, we are suffering collectively from deep bouts of depression. I can say without any hesitation that this is the worst in my nearly 82 years. I fear for this country as never before. It doesn’t help in the slightest to say that we’ve survived bad times before when one feels that this is worse than anything that’s happened, at least in my lifetime.
These aren’t my words. I passed 82 decades ago, and I’m happy as a clam. No, these are the words of one Ian Mitroff of Berkeley, California, whose funereal Letter to the Editor appeared in The New York Times the day after the Senate’s impeachment verdict.
That Mr. Mitroff is ready to chow down his last kale salad and end it all is sad but not surprising. His depression is shared by millions of like-minded Democrats, sickened by Donald Trump and the spectacle of their own uninspiring candidates, increasingly unwatchable televised debates and a political party that appears to have been hijacked by the owners of the New York Knicks.
When the Times’ most liberal of liberal columnists, Michelle Goldberg, is driven to bemoan the “harrowing chaos of the Democratic primary,” maybe the mean-spirited Trumpster is gleeful, but I’m not (well, maybe a little).
There’s a long way to go until Election Day, of course, and the revitalized, revenomized POTUS remains eminently capable of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory at any moment. But the Democrats have a real problem. Specifically, none of the current crop of debating candidates will likely beat the incumbent in November.
The Democrats’ best—and perhaps only—hope to beat Trump is a newly-minted candidate (and also, Democrat), reviled by the left-wing of the party, primarily because he’s a rich businessman. And while it’s a long shot that Michael Bloomberg can win the nomination in a party dominated by anti-business zealots, it’s he alone who would prove the fiercest Democratic competitor to beat Trump in a general election.
Assuming he can make it through the AOC-inspired suicide squad gauntlet and earn the nomination, here’s the three-step public relations plan that could earn Bloomberg the election.
First, accept—and commend—much of the Trump economic program.
Giving Trump credit for anything is, of course, anathema to most self-respecting Democrats, including the presidential candidates. Their revulsion is so intense they can’t possibly bring themselves to endorse anything associated with the Machiavellian President.
That’s a big mistake.
The primary reason 60 million-plus Americans disagree with Democrat notions of Trump is because they correctly credit him for helping orchestrate a booming economy. With output, wages, the stock market and employment all flourishing, Democrats are dopes to insist that Trump’s economic course is the wrong one and to declare American business the “enemy.” But they’re stuck with that position for fear of offending the Bernie brigade of uninformed socialists.
Bloomberg, by contrast, should unapologetically echo Trump’s support of American business, industry and markets. The former Mayor’s credentials as an entrepreneurial business builder are eminently more authentic than Trump’s inherited wealth.
This allows Bloomberg to promise building on his predecessor’s economic successes with an economy that maintains much of the Trump business expansion, while focusing more on lifting the wage gap between haves and have-nots, increasing opportunities for those at the lower end of the scale and approaching trade policy with continued vigilance on protecting America’s interests but with increased diplomacy and less rancor, particularly toward American allies in Europe.
Second, assure progress in areas Trump is unwilling or unable to confront.
Most Americans—with one notable exception who lives on Pennsylvania Avenue and Mar-a-Lago—support gun control, agree the climate seems to be changing for the worst and basically support a woman’s right to choose.
Although Trump doesn’t particularly seem like the gun-toting type and hails from a liberal, abortion-supporting state, he owes much of his political success to staunch conservatives, who adamantly oppose issues like these. So, he’s hog-tied. This leaves Trump vulnerable to the all-important “moderate” voters who reside in the only states that matter: Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida.
This, in turn, presents an enormous opportunity for Bloomberg to differentiate himself from the incumbent with deep experience in and practical solutions to these critical U.S. problems.
- The former mayor’s “Everytown for Gun Safety” and “Mayors Against Illegal Guns” alliances have led the way in securing multi-state support for gun control.
- On climate change, Bloomberg reduced energy inefficiency in New York and personally donated hundreds of millions of dollars toward reducing carbon emissions. Also to his credit, he has denounced the pie-in-the-sky Green New Deal—as well as the equally fantastical Medicare for All—for being a non-starter.
- Finally, on reproductive choice, Bloomberg can talk freely about the importance of ensuring that Roe vs. Wade remains the law of the land and that the nation not veer too far right in restricting reproductive choice.
Third, guarantee a kinder, gentler, less combustible, more predictable leadership.
Even his greatest political and business supporters shudder at waking up each morning to learn what new tweetstorm calamity Trump has unleashed on the world. At base, Donald Trump remains Donald Trump, guided solely by the counsel of one man: himself. And to anybody who knew him then or knows him now, that’s one terrifying thought to wake up to. And Trump’s petulance, coarseness and unpredictability remain the greatest present danger to his reelection.
Michael Bloomberg, on the other hand, though not particularly charismatic or eloquent and often a tad imperious and condescending, is still a sound, pragmatic, thoughtful and whip-smart leader. And he’s got way more experience in running and building things and way better judgment in making decisions than Donald Trump will ever have.
Stated simply, with Bloomberg as President, you’ll sleep better.
Again, Bloomberg getting nominated remains a long shot. For one thing, Democrats and most in the media may never be able to acknowledge the truth that Trump, warts and all, has accomplished some excellent things as President and millions of Americans like him.
And the harsh reality is that the only “Democrat” with a chance to beat him in November is the one with the billions of his own dollars to do it.
Fraser P. Seitel has been a communications consultant, author and teacher for 40 years. He is author of the Pearson text “The Practice of Public Relations,” now in its 13th edition, and co-author of “Rethinking Reputation" and "Idea Wise.” He may be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.