When it comes to political action committees, nothing less than the equivalent of a Big Gulp will do for Mike Bloomberg.
And that’s just fine.
Through his own super PAC, the mayor is trying to influence several campaigns for local and national office around the country, and he’s spending millions of his own money to do so. The man has it, so why not?
But this is not your average politician spending money for your average reasons. When most incumbent politicians spread campaign money around, generally it’s not their own (it’s from their donors) and generally it’s an attempt to win friends and influence in preparation for a career move. A governor with presidential ambitions, or a representative eyeing a promotion, will create a PAC to purchase a few key friends and allies for future considerations.
Mr. Bloomberg, on the other hand, is on the verge of retirement from elected office. He’s not spending money to further his personal ambitions. He’s spending money, it would seem, to support politicians who dare to be moderate or who support positions, like same-sex marriage, that the mayor also supports.
More to the point, however, the mayor also is steering money to candidates in an attempt to foster a national conversation on gun violence and school reform. Despite Mr. Bloomberg’s hopes, the two presidential candidates have not had much to say about gun violence, and school reform still faces the formidable opposition of teachers’ unions throughout the country.
While gun violence and bad schools can be found just about anywhere, those two issues are obviously connected to urban life. And the problems of cities, if you haven’t noticed, are missing in action this year.
Both candidates are trying desperately to reach suburban, middle-class families struggling with mortgage payments, college tuitions and energy costs.
But urban families of every class, color and creed are struggling too. They are struggling with the presence of guns in the street, crumbling infrastructure, poor-performing schools and a crushing tax burden placed on them by several layers of government.
Somebody needs to speak for the nation’s cities, and, to be sure, for the sort of centrist solutions that have been cast aside in this age of pointless partisanship.
If Mr. Bloomberg’s millions can make an impact, New York will be the beneficiary. Even if nobody dares mention the word “city.”