America’s summer of discontent has produced some of the looniest–and potentially dangerous–political rhetoric in a generation. Republicans in Delaware have nominated a candidate for the U.S. Senate who rose to fame, or infamy, by saying ridiculous things on Bill Maher’s cable talk show. Another Republican candidate for Senate, this one from Nevada, talks matter-of-factly about the possible need for “armed resistance” to the federal government. And the Republican Senate candidate from Sara Palin territory has argued that Social Security and unemployment compensation are unconstitutional.
What a crop of crazies. And it’s important to bear in mind that these are not fringe-party candidates. These are candidates of the mainstream Republican Party. That’s pretty scary.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg is among the many Americans who are deeply concerned about the tenor–and content–of this year’s political debate. And he is willing to use his credibility and his bully pulpit to try to drag politics back to the center.
Mr. Bloomberg will spend the next few weeks campaigning for an array of candidates from both parties who shared his centrist views. The mayor is supporting Republican Meg Whitman’s gubernatorial campaign in California and the effort by embattled Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, to retain his seat in Nevada.
The mayor’s effort is necessary and worthwhile. There are far too many demagogues on the campaign trail and in television studios this campaign season. A reasonable voice will remind Americans that bitter, even hateful, partisanship may drive ratings for Fox News and MSNBC, but it does nothing to solve the nation’s problems.
Yes, people are angry. Mr. Bloomberg himself noted that some of his friends in business are angry, too, because they believe the Obama White House has gone out of its way to vilify legitimate business practices. But like most Americans, the mayor understands that today’s angry politicians, activists and commentators offer little in the way of positive, creative ideas. All they have are their full-throated voices, hoarse with rage but incapable of articulating a positive vision for the future.
Mr. Bloomberg has decided that candidates who oppose the voices of division and hatred need the support of those who find politics veering out of control. Nothing positive can come of a more divided nation.