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Mark Cuban Should Start Running His 2028 Presidential Campaign Now
After The 2024 Rematch That Nobody Wanted, 2028 Presents a Prime Window for a Successful Independent Presidential Run
Hey Mark, if this blog complicates any real plans you have to run for President and you want me to delete this, just hit me in the DMs (@sfbots), and I’ll be happy to oblige.
The Failure of The Two Parties and The Need For an Alternative
It does not take a master’s degree from the Kennedy School of Government to observe that our politics are broken and that there is record discontent with the two major political parties. Gallup’s 2022 poll now shows that 41% of Americans identify as politically independent, dominating both Democrats (28%) and Republicans (28%).
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As we sleepwalk into a 2024 Presidential race, marked by a repeat duel between two octogenarians- one whose supporters stormed the Capitol in a seditious attempt to stop Congress from certifying the 2020 election and the other a lifelong politician who first started serving in the US Senate over a half a century ago- we can anticipate a deluge of think pieces calling for a high-profile independent candidate to throw their hat in the ring.
Despite what the roundtable of Morning Joe says, 2024 is not the year for a politically astute independent to make their mark. Trump’s MAGA base will never stray from their champion, and Democrats, along with their mainstream media allies, will frame any independent contender as a surefire path to Trump's re-election (which it is). Instead, a politically ambitious independent should start looking towards 2028 and begin initiating their plan accordingly.
With a Biden/Trump rematch all but assured (sorry meatball), 2024 will usher in the second and final term of either President Biden or Trump. The outcome will thrust the losing party into disarray, bereft of an obvious standard bearer primed for 2028, and the winning party’s Vice President will stand ready to take the reins.
Under a Democratic victory, Kamala Harris will be the presumptive nominee (whether as a loyal VP or acting President) despite her previous Presidential bid failing even to make it to the Iowa Caucus. Conversely, under a Republican victory, Trump’s VP would walk into 2028 inheriting all the baggage of a tumultuous 4-year grievance administration and be left to run a MAGA campaign without the charisma or unwavering fan base that has allowed Trump to overperform expectations.
The fallout from defeat for the losing party is set to fracture the balance between each’s establishment and populist wing, whether it manifests in the left's outrage at how “centrist” Joe Biden’s refusal to pass the torch led to another four years of Trump; or the right spending another four years in the presidential wilderness conspiracizing about back-to-back “stolen elections” as they seek to find their next culture warrior who can finally beat back the “deep state.”
Irrespective of which scenario bears fruit, the 2028 major party nominees will either be comparatively weaker or more removed from mainstream views than their 2024 forerunners. With this weak field and Trump’s unique threat to democracy no longer on the table, 2028 presents a prime window for a successful independent presidential run. A campaign dedicated to representing the moderate majority of Americans, refusing to cater to the extreme party activists on either side, holds the potential to succeed where Ross Perot or Ralph Nader fell short.
Why Mark Cuban?
Mark Cuban is a self-made billionaire (unlike trust fund Trump) born in Pittsburgh, who attended Indiana University (Go Hoosiers) before selling his first company (MicroSolutions) at the age of 32. He later founded an internet radio company (Broadcast.com) that he sold to Yahoo for over $5 billion. With his stash of Yahoo cash, he purchased the Dallas Mavericks in 2000, steering them to an NBA Championship in 2011. Beyond his ownership of the Mavericks, Cuban is an influential Angel Investor and a leading figure on the reality television show "Shark Tank" where he facilitates the dreams of entrepreneurs with seed capital and advice. Recently, he expanded his entrepreneurial portfolio by founding a public-benefit corporation with an ambitious goal of revolutionizing the pharmaceutical industry to ensure more affordable access to life-saving medication.
Mark Cuban has consistently sparked media speculation about presidential ambitions, publicly flirting with running in both the 2016 and 2020 elections before opting out. His appeal lies in his distinct persona—a billionaire with a down-to-earth demeanor who is someone you would enjoy having a beer with. I know this to be true since when my college teammates and I met him at a Miami bar in 2011, he was overly gracious with his time and did indeed enjoy a few Bud Lights with us.
Cuban's entrepreneurial experience and generalist perspective equip him aptly for a role that necessitates fluency in diverse topics—ranging from discussing monetary policy with the Fed Chair to greenlighting military missions. His recent foray into the healthcare sector offers a fresh and unique perspective to public discourse.
Amid the prevailing political discord, Cuban has sustained a balanced, independent profile, capable of attracting bipartisan support and resonating with the growing number of politically independent citizens. Despite the criticism of wealth in politics, fundraising remains an integral component of any campaign. Cuban's extensive network of business-savvy elites, coupled with his personal fortune, ensures a formidable fundraising apparatus capable of fully financing his potential campaign.
Cuban's qualities are poised to fit the moment of 2028. After either a brutal four years of Trump or a lethargic four years of Biden, there will be a palpable desire for an outsider to restore competency back to the White House. Given the probability of a recession occurring between now and 2028, Cuban's business expertise and innovative mindset will resonate with an American public yearning for a brighter future. Moreover, as we stand at the dawn of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) era, America would benefit from a President like Cuban, who has both a deep understanding of technology paired with a healthy skepticism of AI. This will be crucial in ensuring that AI's impact does not wreak havoc on the American workforce, as numerous AI doomers warn it might.
Cuban’s Path Forward
The first step for a national run for office is name recognition; people are not going to vote for someone they do not know. Luckily Cuban starts with strong name recognition; from his status as the popular owner of an NBA franchise to his starring role on a reality television series (sound familiar?), to his enduring presence in both print and televised media, Mark Cuban is a known commodity. However, Cuban needs to expand his recognition footprint across the nation and prompt voters to perceive him as a genuine presidential prospect.
Before Trump de-escalated his way into the 2016 campaign, he consistently promoted himself as a possible candidate starting in 1988 and most seriously as a Reform Party candidate in 2000, even penning a book entitled “The America We Deserve” (which he undoubtedly authored himself). Although Cuban has publicly toyed with the idea of assuming a higher office in the past, he now needs to embark on a full-throttled media campaign to introduce himself to the electorate and begin establishing the groundwork for a victorious 2028 run.
Cuban should begin suggesting a possible entry into the 2024 race, threatening to join either party's primary. Given his centrist appeal, arguments can be made for him to run as a Republican or a Democrat; he should leverage this unique position and visit the early primary states of both parties (which fortuitously differ) to initiate conversations with voters. By traveling to Iowa and New Hampshire to connect with Republican voters, then to South Carolina and Nevada to engage Democratic constituents, he will gin up media speculation on both sides. With the prospect of a 2020 rematch, the journalist class will jump at the opportunity to cover his possible entrance into the field, and the pundit class will revel in debates about whether he has a real shot or is merely engaging in a vanity project.
As the primaries approach, Cuban should gracefully withdraw from both partisan primaries, shifting his focus towards a potential independent candidacy. This transition would further fuel media speculation, earning him additional coverage as a bona fide presidential contender. This will also give him a chance to start giving speeches and trying out messages with independent-minded voters who do not participate in party primaries but ultimately decide who the President is going to be. These speeches and listening tours will aid Cuban in formulating an agenda and message that can turn his early 2028 presidential aspirations from a pipe dream to a reality.
While igniting this attention in the primaries and exploring a possible third-party candidacy, Cuban should continue the tradition instigated by McCain’s Straight Talk Express and mirrored in Mayor Pete’s ‘Go Everywhere’ strategy of welcoming every single opportunity to engage with the media. Cuban should accept every single cable news interview request, should sit with every print reporter, should hop on every podcast, and get beers with every substacker. In today’s fractionalized media landscape, Cuban should absolutely flood the zone. An added advantage to Cuban's independent run is that in these constant interviews, he will not be wedded to the controversial stances of either political party but instead can display his authentic self. This will not only endear him to journalists but also foster a more genuine connection with voters weary of standard politicians and their meticulously vetted talking points.
As Cuban engages in the 2024 campaign, his team should maintain a relentless regimen of polling to gauge the resonance of his messages and identify states where he garners the most support. Concurrently, they should conduct surveys to discern the political orientation with which the electorate most associates him. As a white billionaire residing in Texas, it would be understandable if he is perceived as a Republican. However, as someone who favors common sense gun reform and supports a woman’s right to choose, he could also be coded as a Democrat. The objective of such polling would be to gain a head start in identifying an appropriate running mate to ensure a balanced ticket that resonates with a broad spectrum of voters.
To win enough states to garner 270 electoral votes, Cuban must dominate the independent vote and pick off moderate Republicans and Democrats; beyond his agenda, his running mate pick will be essential to generating that cross-partisan appeal.
If polling shows that Cuban is coded as a Republican, his possible running mates could be Andrew Yang or Mallory McMorrow. Yang, having campaigned for the president in 2020, carries strong name recognition and a devoted ‘Yang Gang’ fan base, his forward-looking agenda while ahead of its time in 2020, will likely resonate with voters in the AI-disrupted world of 2028. Mallory McMorrow has the rare distinction of being a state-level politician who has achieved national name recognition. After going viral for a speech on the Michigan Senate Floor, McMorrow has been a regular on the cable news circuit. Her potent communication skills and outsider status would pair well with Cuban.
Alternatively, if Cuban's image leans more towards the Democratic side in polling, he could contemplate offering the vice-presidential spot to Joe Rogan or Arthur Brooks. While Joe Rogan is an independent, he has been coded as a conservative and would bring along a cult following, media savvy, and an outsider persona to pair with Cuban’s. Arthur Brooks also defies easy categorization. Having previously led the free-market think tank AEI, he has more recently co-authored a book with Oprah about building a happy life. Either choice could attract a cross-party appeal, balance Cuban on the ticket, and pave a robust path toward success in 2028.
Another intriguing consideration for Cuban's running mate, should he choose to think further outside the box, would be Chamath Palihapitiya. The former Facebook executive, turned venture capitalist and fellow billionaire, would really drive home the innovative nature of the ticket. Reflecting the Clinton/Gore ticket of 1992, rather than seeking a diametrically opposite counterpart, Cuban could instead find a kindred spirit in Chamath to solidify the ticket's unique identity. Being an independent thinker who synthesizes ideas from both ends of the ideological spectrum, Chamath would make an excellent match with Cuban.
While Chamath Palihapitiya makes for an unconventional pick due to his birthplace, Sri Lanka, it does not necessarily preclude him from serving as vice president. Article II of the Constitution mandates that a potential president must be a "natural born Citizen," a requirement that Chamath does not meet. However, the Constitution does not stipulate the same for the position of vice president. Should Cuban be unable to continue serving as president, the line of succession would simply bypass Chamath in favor of the Speaker of the House. This arrangement might prove to be advantageous in that Chamath, without presidential ambitions, could devote his innovative skillset to improving the efficiency of the executive branch and advancing Cuban’s agenda. Additionally, as a nation of immigrants, having an immigrant on the ticket would bring a uniquely American quality to this third-party candidacy.
Apart from the campaign logistics, Cuban must also formulate a governing agenda, a task challenging when attempting to appeal to enough voters for a third-party victory. The media and Beltway crew often recommend a persona that embodies fiscal conservatism and social liberalism, a position overrepresented in the power corridors of Washington and the media hub of New York. However, astute analysts swiftly point out that this stance occupies the smallest of the four quadrants among the American electorate.
The goal of an independent agenda is to pull from Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike, thereby requiring Cuban to develop a policy set that avoids veering excessively towards conservatism or liberalism. Luckily there is currently an intelligentsia that has put work in on parallel agendas that, when combined, can fit that unique mold.
From the left perspective, Ezra Klein and Derek Thompson are working on a book themed on an 'Abundance Agenda', which could also be characterized as supply-side progressivism. This agenda would aim to promote prosperity for all Americans while recognizing that prosperity often confronts obstacles in the form of onerous regulatory frameworks that impede innovation.
From the right-wing perspective, there lies a dormant yet applicable movement known as the 'Reformocon Agenda'. This reformist approach was originally conceived as a critique of the Republican party's excessive focus on tax cuts for the wealthy and on reducing the size of government. Its purpose was to formulate a policy agenda using free-market principles but with solutions specifically designed to address the economic challenges faced by middle-class and low-income populations. Mitt Romney's recent proposal for a more substantial and efficient Child Tax Credit exemplifies such an approach.
By weaving together elements from both the Abundance and Reformocon Agendas, Cuban can construct a policy platform centered on growth and progress that appeals to voters spanning the political spectrum. In this context, the role of government is not described in terms of its size, as 'big' or 'small', but rather in terms of its efficiency. Regarding social issues, the agenda espouses a libertarian stance, promoting individual freedoms and allowing for varied lifestyles without subscribing to a 'woke' or 'anti-woke' paradigm - rather, it is simply non-woke. The fiscal position, too, would not be strictly liberal or conservative. Instead, it would be a market-oriented stance that also acknowledges the importance of a robust social safety net.
The agenda should also incorporate non-partisan reforms. Electoral reforms as championed by Andrew Yang and his Forward Party, such as Ranked Choice Voting, non-partisan primaries, and multi-member districts, should be integrated. Additionally, widely-supported Congressional changes, including imposing term limits, and prohibiting individual stock trading by members, are a must. For a more ambitious move, Cuban could even propose a comprehensive overhaul of the Congressional structure, as I laid out in my previous post.
The potential for Mark Cuban's third-party run for presidency rests not only on his stature as an entrepreneur and philanthropist but more importantly, on his potential to embody a balanced, progress-oriented political agenda appealing to a broad swath of the electorate. The fusion of the Abundance and Reformocon Agendas, along with electoral and Congressional reforms, could provide a dynamic blueprint for an efficient government that advocates growth, civil liberties, and a robust social safety net.
A Campaign Rooted in Patriotism
A campaign rooted in a profound sense of patriotism is indispensable. Cuban and his chosen partner should champion the notion of the United States as the most exceptional nation in history and articulate their ambition to make it even better. Both Republicans and Democrats have seemingly lost touch with this unabashed patriotism; Republicans often longing for an idealized past, while Democrats are easily swayed by a narrative that denies the greatness of America's history and prospective greatness, to the extent that they sometimes even exhibit reluctance in celebrating the American flag.
Reflect on Barack Obama's 2004 DNC speech; it is worth asking if the Democratic Party currently embodies the spirit of that address. Phrases that characterize America as a "magical place... that shone as a beacon of freedom and opportunity to so many who had come before", or axioms like "In a tolerant America your name is no barrier to success… in a generous America you don’t have to be rich to achieve your potential" seem to be missing from the rhetoric of current figures such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Bernie Sanders.
Similarly, the Republican Party appears to have drifted from its own past expressions of patriotic sentiments. Will the next Republican presidential nominee echo Reagan's embracing message that "Our nation is a nation of immigrants. More than any other country, our strength comes from our own immigrant heritage and our capacity to welcome those from other lands." Or the acknowledgment that "You can go to live in France, but you can't become a Frenchman. You can go to live in Germany or Italy, but you cannot become a German, or an Italian. But anyone, from any corner of the world, can come to live in the United States and become an American.”
Cuban should seize this moment of polarization to unify the nation under our shared admiration for America and its fundamental principles. By highlighting both our collective immigrant roots and the immense opportunities our nation offers, Cuban can reignite the patriotic spirit that seems to be waning in our politics today. This is the kind of leadership America needs now more than ever - a leadership that believes in its greatness, envisions its potential for further greatness, and is prepared to take on the necessary hard work to achieve this.
Mark Cuban's potential presidential run in 2028 presents a real opportunity for innovative political engagement and transformative leadership. Leveraging his widespread name recognition, savvy use of media, and potential to craft a bipartisan ticket that caters to a broad swath of the American electorate, Cuban could have a considerable impact on the political landscape. His ability to craft an agenda that combines elements of left-leaning progressivism and right-leaning free market principles could usher in a new era of efficient, non-partisan government focused on growth and prosperity. Importantly, a campaign rooted in strong patriotism and a unifying love for America is essential in this era of political polarization. By embodying a spirit of optimism, pragmatism, and unyielding belief in the greatness of America, Cuban could reinvigorate the political discourse, bridge existing divides, and guide the country towards a more united, prosperous future.
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