Bloomberg’s Marathon Reversal and the Power of Public Opinion

From Big Think:

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg doesn’t give in very often. During his reign, Bloomberg has pushed for smoking bans in bars, restaurants and city parks. He has wrested control of the public schools from the Board of Education. He has required chain restaurants to post nutritional information on their menus. Most recently and perhaps most brazenly, he pushed through an ordinance that bans the sale of large sugary drinks in bodegas. None of these proposals were popular. Some were ridiculed. But Bloomberg is not a man who gives in easily.

Given Bloomberg’s comments on what comprises leadership, the last-minute cancellation is quite a surprise. Here is how Blooomberg described his conception of leadership just last week:

Leadership is about doing what you think is right and then building a constituency behind it. It is not doing a poll and following from the back. If you want to criticize the political process—and it’s probably true throughout history, and certainly not just in the United States—I think it’s fair to say, in business or in government, an awful lot of leaders follow the polls.

And that’s not the way to win. I happen to think it’s not ethical, or right, and not your obligation. But I don’t even think it’s good business or politics, because people aren’t good at describing what is in their own interest … What leaders should do is make decisions as to what they think is in the public interest based on the best advice that they can get, and then try and build a constituency and bring it along.

In sum:

If I finish my term in office … and have high approval ratings, then I wasted my last years in office.

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