Charlotte Mellgard is a sophomore at Vanderbilt University. She is majoring in political science with minors in both Corporate Strategy and Spanish. Charlotte contributes as both a writer and marketing director for VPR. She is particularly interested in international conflict and how it affects politics here at home. In addition to VPR, Charlotte participates in the Vanderbilt community through MentorTENNISee, VSG, and as a member of Kappa Delta sorority.
To run for presidency or not to run for presidency? That is the question business magnate and former mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg has been contemplating for several election cycles. This past week, the press began to report that Bloomberg would run as an independent if democratic candidate Bernie Sanders is likely to run against the republican candidate Donald Trump. Though polls have revealed mixed results among citizen’s views of Bloomberg, an independent running for President in just what Washington needs.
According to The New York Times, a recent Bloomberg-sponsored poll revealed that approximately one-half of those to vote in the Iowa caucus hold an “unfavorable view” of Bloomberg and 26% of democrats hold the same opinion. Meanwhile, GOP pollster Frank Luntz believes that the former mayor has a shot at the presidency stating: “If Michael Bloomberg decides to run for president as an independent candidate, he will begin the campaign just a handful of points behind the front-runners from both political parties.” This claim is supported by a recent poll that reported somewhat promising statistics, revealing that, if Bloomberg ran against Trump and Clinton, he would receive 29% of the vote.
Though polls have yet to give a clear answer on whether Michael Bloomberg has a real chance of being elected President, our country needs a president who is a member of the independent party. Our country and Washington are currently more polarized than ever before. Statistics gathered by the Pew Research Center reveal that, “the share of Americans who express consistently conservative or consistently liberal opinions has doubled over the past two decades from 10 percent to 21 percent”. This polarization is also reflected in Washington, where the animosity between the parties has increased twofold over the last 20 years—from 17% to 43%.
Such schism is further demonstrated by the fact that our government, now more than ever, has, simply put, an incredibly difficult time getting things done. Evidenced by the 2013 government shutdown, our country’s politicians simply cannot collaborate in a constructive manner. Such polarization is largely a result of neither party holding a strong majority in Congress. With the constant ability to obtain a majority in the Senate, each party’s agenda revolves not around new legislation, but, rather, around preventing the opposing party from enacting any of their legislation. Politics today is not rooted in productivity but rather in unproductivity generated by divisiveness and animosity. By creating conditions in which the opposing party can obtain as few successes as possible, the minority party has a higher chance of victory in the next election cycle. The polarization has influenced the American people whose views are gravitating more and more to the extremes as evidenced by the Pew Research Center’s poll.
If Washington has any hope of success in upcoming years, we must not elect extreme conservatives or liberals such as current front-runners such as Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Hilary Clinton, or Bernie Sanders. With these politicians, the status quo in Washington will persist—creating a nation where one can only dream of a time when legislation was passed with grace and ease. A candidate that shares both liberal and conservative opinions, such as Bloomberg, has a chance at creating an environment where compromise and productivity are prioritized and possible—so that Washington may, once again, serve the people as charged by our Constitution.
 Hetherington, Marc J., and Thomas J. Rudolph. Why Washington Won’t Work: Polarization, Political Trust, and the Governing Crisis.