Time Horizon

Today's Metro section features a fascinating Joyce Purnick piece on the NYC Mayoral elections. It theorizes that the reason that frontrunner Fernando Ferrer is starting to have problems with black voters is that black leaders, in particular Charles Rangel and Al Sharpton, want Bloomberg to win. They want Bloomberg to win, not because they think he'll do a good job as mayor for the next four years. Rather, they want city comptroller William C. Thompson to become mayor in the election after this one. They think he'll have an easier time winning against a non-incumbent Republican than of upsetting the incumbent Democratic Mayor (Ferrer in this scenario) in the primary, and then defeating whichever Republican comes up against a Republican party wracked by discord.

For me, this article brought back a couple of issues I've been thinking about in the last week or two. They're united by me having a short time horizon and frequently missing the politics of an issue, as opposed to the policy. If I thought Fernando Ferrer was going to do a better job as Mayor for the next four years than Bloomberg, I'd be quite likely to do what I can to cause Ferrer to win. Some of it would depend on whether or not I thought Bloomberg's next term as mayor would be outright harmful as opposed to just less beneficial than Ferrer's. If they were both on the good side of the ledger, I could understand accepting the less good option for now in exchange for the best option four years now. (NB: I really think harmful and beneficial are meaningful terms in this context. That is, they are placeholders for substantively detailed pictures of the policies candidates are going to enact, which will be one or the other on balance.)

This post is intended to be the pay off to the "more cynical" comment below, which may make it the first time on this blog that I said I was going to talk about something later and then actually did so.