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With Hillary as front-runner, Mike needs to step in

By Tom Allon

I’m a Democrat and I am very concerned about the upcoming presidential election. Our country’s ability to tackle all kinds of inequality—racial, gender, economic and the list goes on—largely hinges on the outcome of the 2016 election, and on whether or not Democrats prevail.

I want to make clear that I don’t think all Republicans are completely misguided, just many of them, such as union-bashing Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and polarizing Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and thuggish New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Moderates like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio—although too far to the right on many issues for me—at least offer new ideas on education and immigration.

But we saw what eight years of George Bush–Dick Cheney did to our country—an economic near-collapse, a rush headlong into a calamitous war and a rightward tilt of our Supreme Court.

So the stakes are high in 2016. It is easy to find fault with some of President Obama’s policies and methods—particularly in Middle Eastern foreign policy and his ability to negotiate with an intransigent Congress—but history will almost certainly be very kind to him. His landmark health care plan will one day be hailed as being as revolutionary as Social Security. Obama rarely gets enough credit for bringing America back from the brink of economic collapse early in his presidency with his steady stimulus plan and strong monetary policy.

Ironically, the first president of African-American decent hasn’t done enough to help the underclass in this country and the huge gap of economic inequality has widened. There has been a surge of activity around the country around the minimum wage, but this is not nearly enough.

There has been no attempt to address America’s unfair tax code, no attempt to make higher education less expensive for middle-class and low-income families or reform the predatory college loan program.

There also is the proverbial elephant in the room: the presumptive—and seemingly only—Democratic nominee for president, Hillary Clinton.

I am a fan of Hillary’s because she is progressive without being dogmatic and polarizing; she is extremely competent and has invaluable experience on foreign and domestic issues; and she is battle-scarred and has been tested in public life for three decades.

But.

For all her experience and intelligence, I worry that Hillary is not a great candidate or campaigner. I worry there is much Clinton fatigue in this country. I worry the media and the public will focus on the wrong things and damage her electability. I worry she will stumble late in the campaign. I worry there is no Democratic back-up plan.

So I will join the small but growing chorus of those who are saying, “Run, Mike. Run!”

Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg is perhaps the only other supremely qualified moderate in public life who could lead this country. He has the intelligence, the independence, the wealth, the team and—most importantly—he was great when holding the second hardest job in America for 12 years.

I’m debating whether it would be better for Bloomberg to jump into the Democratic primary soon, so Hillary has a real challenger to sharpen her campaign and message, or whether he should wait until early 2016 to see if Hillary flounders.

An advantage of being a multi-billionaire is he doesn’t have to do fund-raising and can snap his fingers and have the finest minds in our country help him deliver his centrist, no-nonsense message. His business skills will surely help in the increasingly competitive global economy. His crime-fighting record will help ensure America stays safe. His blunt and honest way of governing will help us on the world stage, as America’s hegemonic powers begin to recede.

So, even though there has been no official word from Bloomberg, I would bet many Americans would love to have another choice in the Democratic primary. Bernie Sanders is a smart, outspoken lefty who speaks truth to power, but he has no chance of being the next president. Martin O’Malley and Lincoln Chafee have impressive records and may be rising stars, but it is doubtful either is ready for prime time.

I hope Hillary Clinton continues to hone her centrist but populist message and gains overwhelming support, but I would sleep better at night knowing that Bloomberg is ready to step in at any time to ensure we don’t have a Walker or Rubio presidency.

Run, Mike, run!

Tom Allon, president of City & State NY, was a Republican and Liberal Party-backed mayoral candidate in 2013 before he left to return to the private sector. Reach him at tallon@cityandstateny.com.

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