Liberty is a work in progress.

Painting: Jean Leon Gerome Ferris. Photograph: Three Lions/Getty Images

The Independent's Case for Clinton

Michael R. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News. He is the UN secretary-general’s special envoy for cities and climate change.
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The following is an adaptation of an address delivered to the Democratic National Convention on July 27, 2016:

When the Founding Fathers arrived in Philadelphia to forge a new nation, they didn’t come as Democrats or Republicans, or to nominate a presidential candidate. They came as patriots who feared party politics.

I know how they felt.

I’ve been a Democrat. I’ve been a Republican. And I eventually became an independent, because I don’t believe either party has a monopoly on good ideas or strong leadership. When I enter the voting booth, I look at the candidate, not the party label. I have supported elected officials from both sides of the aisle.

Probably not many people here can say that. But I know there are many Americans who can. And now, they are carefully weighing their choices.

I understand their dilemma. I know what it’s like to have neither party fully represent my views or values. Too many Republicans wrongly blame immigrants for our problems -- and they stand in the way of action on climate change and gun violence. Meanwhile, many Democrats wrongly blame the private sector for our problems -- and they stand in the way of action on education reform and deficit reduction.

There are times when I disagree with Hillary Clinton. But whatever our disagreements may be, I’ve come here to say: We must put them aside for the good of our country and unite around the candidate who can defeat a dangerous demagogue.

We’ve heard a lot of talk in this campaign about needing a leader who understands business. I couldn’t agree more. I’ve built a business. And I didn’t start it with a $1 million check from my father. 

Because of my success in the private sector, I had the chance to run America’s largest city for 12 years, governing in the wake of its greatest tragedy. Today, as an independent, an entrepreneur and a former mayor, I believe we need a president who is a problem-solver, not a bomb-thrower -- someone who can bring members of Congress together to get big things done.

I know Hillary Clinton can do all this, because I saw it firsthand when she was in the Senate. I was elected mayor two months after Sept. 11, as a Republican, and I saw how she worked with Republicans in Washington to ensure that New York got the help it needed to recover and rebuild. We didn’t always agree, but she always listened. That’s the kind of approach we need in Washington today, and it has to start in the White House.

Given my background, I’ve often encouraged business leaders to run for office, because many of them share a pragmatic approach to building consensus. But not all.

Most of us who have created a business know that we’re only as good as the way our employees, clients and partners view us. Most of us don’t pretend that we’re smart enough to make every big decision by ourselves. And most of us who have our names on the door know that we are only as good as our word.

But not Donald Trump. Throughout his career, Trump has left behind a well-documented record of bankruptcies, lawsuits, and angry shareholders and contractors who feel cheated, as well as disillusioned customers who feel ripped off. He says he wants to run the nation like he has run his business. God help us.

I’m a New Yorker, and New Yorkers know a con when we see one. Trump says he’ll punish manufacturers that move to Mexico or China, but the clothes he sells are made overseas in low-wage factories. He says he wants to put Americans back to work, but he games the U.S. visa system so he can hire temporary foreign workers at low wages. He says he wants to deport 11 million undocumented people, but he seems to have no problem in hiring them. What’d I miss here?

Truth be told, the richest thing about Donald Trump is his hypocrisy. He wants you to believe that we can solve our biggest problems by deporting Mexicans and shutting out Muslims. He wants you to believe that erecting trade barriers will bring back good jobs. He’s wrong on both counts.

We can only solve our biggest problems if we come together and embrace the freedoms that our Founding Fathers established here in Philadelphia, freedoms that made possible the American exceptionalism we now enjoy. Donald Trump doesn’t understand that. Hillary Clinton does.

I understand the appeal of a businessman president. But Trump’s business plan is a disaster in the making. It would make it harder for small businesses to compete, threaten the retirement savings of millions of Americans, lead to greater debt and more unemployment, erode our influence in the world, and make our communities less safe.

The bottom line: Trump is a risky, reckless and radical choice, and one we can’t afford to make.

Now, I know Hillary Clinton is not flawless. No candidate is. But she is the right and responsible choice in this election. No matter what you may think about her politics or her record, Hillary Clinton understands that this is not reality television. This is reality. She understands that the job of president involves finding solutions, not pointing fingers, and offering hope, not stoking fear.

Remember: Over the course of our proud history, we have faced our share of grave challenges, but we have never retreated in fear. Never -- not here in Philadelphia in 1776, not at Gettysburg in 1863, not through two World Wars and a Great Depression, not at Selma or Stonewall, and not after Sept. 11. We must not start now.

America is the greatest country on Earth. When people vote with their feet, they come here. The presidency of the United States is the most powerful office in the world. And so I say to my fellow independents: Your vote matters now. Your vote will determine the future of your job and your business -- and our future together as a country.

To me, this election is not a choice between a Democrat and a Republican. It’s a choice about who is better to lead our country right now: better for our economy, our security, our freedom and our future. There is no doubt in my mind that Hillary Clinton is the right choice.

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
David Shipley at davidshipley@bloomberg.net