November 5th, 2012 | Opinion

Forum: Bloomberg Endorsement

New York City Michael Bloomberg endorsed President Barack Obama, citing Hurricane Sandy as a reason.
New York City Michael Bloomberg endorsed President Barack Obama, citing Hurricane Sandy as a reason. Photo by David Shankbone/Creative Commons.

Last week, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg endorsed President Barack Obama for re-election. Read reactions from Yalies in the News’ Forum:

David Steiner, Guest Columnist | Freshman in Silliman College

On Thursday, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg endorsed Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election. The endorsement, likely a calculated move to position Bloomberg for a presidential run in 2016, is out of character. In the 2008 race, when Obama faced a Republican further to the right than Romney, Bloomberg stayed neutral. Bloomberg lived most of his life as a Democrat, but switched to the GOP before his first run for mayor, eventually becoming an independent as the Tea Party gained control. Throughout his career, Bloomberg has eschewed the political fray. He often criticizes both Obama and Romney — and certainly did so in his endorsement.

Also out of character is Bloomberg’s creation of a super PAC — funded by up to $15 million of his own money — to support centrists throughout the country. Less than a week out from the election, two of the top stories on the main page of Politico are about Michael Bloomberg. Suddenly, his name is associated with presidential elections, not guarded political neutrality.

Bloomberg made his recent endorsement in the context of Hurricane Sandy, focusing on the pretext of climate change. On the surface, endorsing Obama on the grounds of environmental policy seems silly. But Bloomberg’s message is clear: elect a man who will take on a force greater than himself.

And the implications for Bloomberg are even clearer. He truly is a centrist; should he run for president in 2016, he will find it difficult to make it through the primary in either party (but if he makes it through, he’ll win). That’s especially true in the Republican Party, as Bloomberg is a social liberal. He thus has positioned himself for a run as a Democrat, and he now has strong enough liberal credentials to do so. He is anti-gun, pro-choice and pro-same-sex marriage; he has reformed New York City schools and supported amnesty of illegal immigrants. To top it all off, he has the strongest of business credentials. Not to mention, of course, that he endorsed Obama.

Harry Larson, Staff Columnist | Junior in Jonathan Edwards College

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s endorsement of President Obama has given the president’s supporters a nice feeling of vindication. In practical terms, however, Bloomberg’s lukewarm support will, at most, push a couple of wealthy, white and very, very lean New York and New Jersey men into Obama’s camp.

But Bloomberg’s support for the President does accomplish one important goal. From Obama and Romney’s rhetoric, one might think that climate change has ceased to exist. In his endorsement, Mayor Bloomberg reminded us that climate change is happening; its immense and immediate consequences “should compel all elected leaders to take immediate action.”

We don’t know whether climate change exacerbated Hurricane Sandy. But we do know that climate change may make such events more likely — or more severe.

Drinking before driving won’t always cause a crash, but we know not to take that risk. Even if there’s uncertainty about what precisely climate change will do, why should we risk its potentially catastrophic consequences to our infrastructure and economy, not to mention our national security and our lives?

Some will respond to Mayor Bloomberg’s endorsement by arguing that Obama has failed to pass the climate change legislation he promised. But as Bloomberg pointed out, Obama’s new mileage standards, as well as his proposal to regulate carbon and other emissions from coal power plants, will have an immense effect on our carbon footprint. Contrast that with Mitt Romney’s embrace of coal or Republicans’ proposal to legally forbid the EPA from regulating carbon.

When you read Mayor Bloomberg’s endorsement, it’s hard not to get the feeling that he doesn’t like Obama. He lambasts the President’s political rhetoric, conceding that he might have voted for a 1994 or 2003 Mitt Romney. But Bloomberg’s endorsement demonstrates the extreme absurdity (and absurd extremity) of a party that refuses to believe science. It’s a stark rebuke to those who claim that Obama has no second-term agenda. It’s easy to see just how different — and how much better off — our country will be if we continue to build on the policies of Obama’s first administration, on climate change, health care, financial reform and the economy, than if we simply abandon all that progress.