Bloomberg: You Cannot be Timid and Nonpartisan

There is some buzz around Bloomberg as a politician thanks to his departure from the Republican party to join the ranks of Independents. His talk of being “nonpartisan” is hardly anything new. But it provides some insight into one of the many problems with politics today. (Guardian, emphasis mine):

He declared his decision to drop his Republican affiliation on a campaign-style sweep through California, during which he criticised both parties in Washington for being too timid.

Recent speeches have also focused on national issues and he has repeatedly criticised the partisan politics that dominate Washington.

The politics of partisanship and the resulting inaction and excuses have paralysed decision-making, primarily at the federal level, and the big issues of the day are not being addressed, leaving our future in jeopardy,” he said on Monday at a University of Southern California conference.

There is a disconnect here. Invariably the discussion of moving beyond so called partisan politics is advocating for a very timid approach to politics. People disagree, and politicians, representing divergent viewpoints, have a responsibility to represent them. Disagreements over universal health care, the environment, or the war, are real battles that need to be fought. Clamoring for the non-partisan mantle is a rush to cave in and betray the values of the voters who put you into office. To be fierce and bold you must stand up for your beliefs.

When it comes down to it a nonpartisan approach to politics is an appeal to go with the crowd. It is the status quo over the will of the voters. At its extreme it says the single worst thing you can do as a politician is make an argument for a partisan position.

But even if there were a sense in claiming the answer is 5 when there is bickering over whether 2+2 is 4 or 6, it is anything but bold. Nonpartisan politics is the embodiment of timidity. Viewed through Bloomberg’s fractured idea of partisan politics his party switch looks less like an action of principle and more like another politician trying to be all things to all people.

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