Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg is getting serious about running for president as a third party candidate. In January, three of his associates said that he might run to stop Donald Trump or Ted Cruz from becoming president. That is a noble ambition, but it would be a disaster if Bloomberg went through with it.
If Bloomberg runs he will only siphon votes away from the Democratic nominee and hand the presidency to Trump or Cruz. If Bloomberg runs he will be cursed throughout history as the Ralph Nader of 2016. Nader, as you may recall, ran as a third party candidate in 2000 and tore the presidency out of Al Gore's hands and gave it to George W. Bush. Had Nader not run, Gore would have won and we would probably not have invaded Iraq in 2003. Had we not invaded Iraq we could have concentrated our troops in defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan. Had we not invaded Iraq we would not have thrown away trillions of dollars and lost thousands of American soldiers overseas. Had we not invaded Iraq, we would not have killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and sowed the seeds of anti-American hatred. Had we not invaded Iraq we would not have created the power vacuum that ISIS has grown to fill.
Make no mistake about it. If either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz are elected in 2016, we are likely to be at war in 2017. Cruz said he would tear up the Iran nuclear deal on his first day in office. That means we will lose access to much of our ability to monitor Iranian nuclear facilities and we will become isolated from the rest of the P5+1 nations that negotiated the deal with Iran. The other nations will blame US for breaking the deal, not Iran. They will not re-institute sanctions against Iran if they view us as the guilty party. Iran will be free to pursue nuclear weapons if it wants to and we will have a hard time monitoring their progress. The only way we can prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons would be to launch a war against them. As I pointed out in my open letter to Senator Schumer, such a war would be costly and dangerous, and ISIS would be the benefactor of our stupidity.
It is not as easy to prove that war is inevitable under a Trump presidency. But Trump has all the diplomatic skills of a two-year old who has had his toys taken away from him. He's threatened to get tough with China and Iran, and he said he's going to force the Mexicans to pay for a wall that he wants to build. Lindsey Graham couldn't even trust him with his phone number. How can we trust him with the codes to our nuclear arsenal? Trump may be able to bully a disabled reporter, but if he tries to bully the rest of the world we will find ourselves isolated at best, and at war at worst.
So if Michael Bloomberg runs as a third party candidate it will be 2000 all over again. The Republicans will win and Bloomberg will be partially responsible for America going to war in 2017, just as Ralph Nader was partially responsible for our going to war in 2003.. Only this time Bloomberg will bear greater responsibility because the outcome of his action is more foreseeable. Who could foresee in 2000 that we would be attacked on 9/11 and that Bush would use a bogus claim that al-Qaeda was in Iraq as one of several reasons to drag us into war? The case that a Republican victory in this election will soon be followed by war is much more clear today than it was in the 2000 election. And today we can look back at Nader's failed campaign and see the precedent he has set for a Bloomberg run.
Bloomberg can help Trump immensely by running. But if he REALLY wants to hurt Trump--if he REALLY wants to make Trump look bad--he is in a better position to do so than almost everyone else on the planet. Michael Bloomberg can do what few of us can do because he is in an elite group of people who have a special moral authority to call theDonald out for being a charity cheapskate. And by calling out Donald Trump he can better the lives of thousands of Syrian refugees. Or he could push Trump to give to any of hundreds of other deserving charities.
I wrote about this before when Stephen Colbert challenged Donald Trump to give $1 million to the Harlem's Children Zone.
As far as I know, Trump has not accepted the challenge. As far as I know, Donald Trump has let down the kids at the Harlem Children's Zone. But Bloomberg could succeed where Colbert failed. I believe in recycling, and the rest of this post is a slightly modified recycled version of my post from last November about Stephen Colbert and Donald Trump.
First, we must note that Trump claims he's worth $10 billion. Michael Bloomberg should challenge Trump to help the Harlem Children's Zone or to save the lives of thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing from the war that is tearing their country apart--and by challenging Trump he can help Trump save his soul in the process. All he needs to do is publicly challenge Trump to discuss the Bible.
And Mr. Trump should be delighted to talk about the Bible. After all, he's called it his favorite book. It's even better, he said, than his own book, "The Art of the Deal". Bloomberg should hold a Bible up at a press conference and say:
Mr. Trump, You said your favorite book is the Bible. So what do you think of Mark 10:25, Luke 18:25 and Matthew 19:24? They are the verses that say it is harder for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. The Bible also says that "the love of money is the root of all evil". I look at these verses and I interpret them to mean that we are not here to aggrandize ourselves, but to help those less fortunate than us. How do you interpret these verses?
The Bible is our greatest source of wisdom. But it is not our only source of wisdom. Sometimes we can gain insights from popular fictional characters. To paraphrase the great Spider-Man, "With great wealth comes great responsibility. Or if you prefer, I will quote the ever-so-logical Mr. Spock: The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.
In 2011, the Smoking Gun reviewed your donations over the previous 20 years and published an article calling you "the least charitable billionaire." And in August 2015 the AP published an article entitled "There's something fishy about Donald Trump's charitable donations." The AP story stated that you claim to have given $102 million over the last previous years, but the rest of the story called this claim into question. How much have you PERSONALLY given to charities that help those who are desperate and poor? Can you give us a breakdown of what organizations received your charitable donations and how much you have given them?
As you know, there is a desperate refugee crisis arising from those fleeing the fighting in Syria. Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris has offered to buy an island from Italy or Greece which he plans to use to house hundreds of thousands of refugees. He is worth only $2.9 billion. You are worth three times as much as him. Will you match his generosity?
If you don't want to spend a lot of money helping refugees, then Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett have organized a group of billionaires who have pledged to give at least half their wealth to charity or philanthropy. This is so important that I have joined Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg, and over a hundred of the richest people in the world who have pledged to give away at least half of our wralth to charity during our lifetimes or in our wills. Will you join us in the Giving Pledge? Will you do your fair share to help make this world a better place? This pledge morally commits you to giving away only 50% of your wealth. But you are worth $10 billion. Even if you gave away 99% of your wealth, you'd still have $100 million left. Anyone who can't live relatively well off of $100 million just isn't trying. So can you afford to join us in this pledge?
These questions will put Trump in an awkward position. He will have one of two options if he can't PROVE that he has already given generously relative to his net worth to charities that help the poor. He can either pledge to give vast sums of money to help the poor or he can refuse. If he refuses then he will look like a cheapskate. Yes, a man of Trump's wealth will still be perceived as a charity cheapskate, even after giving a million dollars to charity. And that is not a particularly endearing quality for a presidential candidate. Or he can accept this Biblical challenge, in which case he will do his soul and the world a lot of good.
Update 3/7/16 : Michael Bloomberg has decided not to run for president. I have no doubt he would make a good president, but I applaud him for his wisdom and his restraint. He is truly acting with our nation's best interest at heart. Read why he decided not to run here.