Instead of running himself, Mike Bloomberg should have started a party

It seems unlikely at this point that despite, or maybe because of, his lavish spending Michael Bloomberg is going to become president or even the Democratic nominee. For the same price, he could have, and should have, started a 3rd political party.

I know that third parties do poorly in the United States. The last time the US had a third party that stuck was the Republicans in 1854, eleven years before the Civil War. Then, as now, the country was badly divided, and the political climate was toxic. It’s entirely possible that we’re due.

The goal of this party though wouldn’t be to bring about a revolution, but to cool temperatures, force conversations, and to restore checks and balances and American’s faith in democracy by denying the GOP and the Dems a majority in Congress. It wouldn’t try to win the White House, at least not for the foreseeable future. Instead, it should focus on swing Congressional Districts and Senate seats and only run candidates in places where there is a chance of victory, instead of simply acting as a spoiler. Instead of seeking the Oval Office and promising radical change, it would seek to hold the balance of power in congress – to hold both the Democrats and the Republicans to a minority in either chamber. In the current climate 50 House seats and 5 Senate seats should do it. At that point, any party that wants to accomplish anything has to negotiate with them to do it.

However, because it is not meant to have a majority, the party would not have much of an agenda of its own. Instead, it would have a list of problems it would like to see addressed. Tell the Republicans and the Democrats that the party will back any evidence-based, rational solution to climate change, housing shortages, gun violence, income inequality and regional inequality, health care availability, infrastructure, education, etc. It would tell both parties that it will support the best candidate for Congressional leadership and committee positions, not based on their party but based on their resume and temperament and vote for or against judges based on the same criteria.

The party would introduce bills of its own, only to try to force a compromise and would instead specialize in proposing amendments and forcing both parties to focus on practical considerations, rather than political posturing.

For votes the party would aim for moderates, the college-educated, the middle class and for the suburbs; It would aim for the Never Trump Republicans, the Never Bernie Democrats, and the Republican Obama voters. It would avoid hard ideology in favor of evidence-based policy; and would ideally have deeply ingrained in the party constitution a strict code of ethics and transparency, which it would uphold religiously. Don’t make absurd promises about whom you will and won’t take money from, just be upfront about where your money comes from and where it goes. It should do careful background checks on candidates and instantly remove anyone with a dubious past and anyone who commits ethical breaches in the present.

It should definitely have good communications people so that when it says it made a decision based on evidence, they can effectively explain what evidence they mean. The party should also have experts on a variety of topics on staff or on call to ensure that the party’s representatives understand the complexities of each issue.

In 2020 both of the party “brands” are in the toilet. In addition to general dissatisfaction with the entire process, there are millions of people who will never vote for the Republicans, millions who will never vote for the Democrats and many millions with so little faith or interest in democracy that they’ll never vote for either party.

However, I suspect that there are a significant number of Americans who might give a new thing a shot, especially if it promised reason and sound judgment and a case-by-case approach to issues instead of a lot of shouting and accusations and a winner takes all mentality. It would be a way for Americans to cast a ballot without putting themselves in the middle of the current, toxic political climate. In the short run such a party, if well funded and professionally run, could do wonders for American Democracy. In the long run, it could replace one or the other of the existing parties. And this would have been a much better use of a billion dollars than a leap into an already overcrowded Democratic primary.