Skip to comments.Why This New York Mayoral Election Is Unlike Any in Decades
Posted on 09/09/2013 11:44:21 AM PDT by neverdem
With crime down and with fears of terrorism receding, voters are free to focus on issues such as income inequality and affordable housingand it's why Bill DeBlasio is the unlikely front-runner.
At 6 feet 5 inches, Bill de Blasio isnt just the tallest candidate running for mayor of New York. As the front-runner, hes also become the biggest target. Once something of a liberal long shot, the 52-year-old has become the likely next mayor by being the toughest critic of the current one. De Blasio captured the anti-Michael Bloomberg mood of the citys Democrats far better than the now-fading Christine Quinn, the City Council speaker who is vying to be the citys first female mayorand its first openly gay one. Quinn said, for instance, that shed keep Bloombergs police commissioner, Ray Kelly, the architect of the stop-and-frisk policy.
De Blasios progressive surge is remarkable in a city that hasnt elected a Democratic mayor in 24 years. Its not that New York is conservative, of course. (President Obama won 81 percent of the vote in 2012.) But crime and safety have driven New York politics into the hands of Republicans such as Rudy Giuliani and tough-on-crime Democrats such as Ed Koch. With crime down, New Yorkers are free to turn to progressive issues such as income inequality and affordable housing. Its telling that curtailing, not beefing up, the police force is a key issue this year.
This election is not going to be about crime, as some previous elections were, de Blasio told National Journal last month. It used to be in New York you worried about getting mugged. But todays mugging is economic. Can you afford your rent? With the influx of moneyed professionals into urban cores in Manhattan, D.C., and elsewhere, the issues at play in this race could be a harbinger of political battles elsewhere.
A political operative-turned-politician, de Blasio boasts ties to Hillary Rodham Clinton (he managed her 2000 Senate bid) and countless other New York Dems, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo (they worked together at the Housing and Urban Development Department). With his wife, Chirlane McCray, an African-American writer who identified herself as a lesbian until they married, he has a personal story that goes beyond being an outer-borough Italian white guy. His son, Dante, sports big hair and was the centerpiece of an ad denouncing Bloomberg and giving the campaign whats been called Fro-mentum.
Now that New Yorkers are no longer focused on their personal safetywhether threatened by robbers or terroriststhey have the liberty to focus on the kinds of issues that de Blasio is raising in what he incessantly dubs his Tale of Two Cities campaign. Hes called for a tax on those earning more than $500,000. He was an early critic of Bloombergs stop-and-frisk policy, under which police have dramatically increased the number of individuals detained on probable cause. By making himself the anti-Bloomberg, de Blasio is not only leading the pack, hes also got a shot at avoiding a runoff election.
Theres plenty to back up de Blasios claim of inequality. By one index, Gotham is the most unequal city in the U.S., and inequality has grown four times faster than in the rest of the country since 1980. These days, just 1 percent of New Yorkers take in one-third of the citys incomeabout twice the national average. The high cost of housing has exacerbated the differences. The question for New York and the nation is what to do about it. Through any number of policies, such as proposals to implement a surtax on higher incomes and to stop funding cuts to schools and hospitals, de Blasio wants to rebuild the middle class.
But the trends that have driven inequality nationally, even globallyamong them, the cost of higher education, global competition, and punishing conditions for dropoutsarent easily remedied. In New York, the explosive growth of the financial sector, even after the banking crisis, has helped widen the divide. De Blasio is not Huey Long and hes not wonky, but hes got a good knack for finding symbols of the new Gilded Age, recently tweeting about one chic spot offering a $350 steak. His opposition to Bloombergs congestion pricing tax for cars entering Manhattan helps him gain currency in Queens and Staten Island.
De Blasio is surging now, yet when we spoke with him in mid-August at a Gramercy Park coffee shop, his entourage totaled one guy, and no polls had him in the lead. (Anthony Weiner had imploded by then, but the polls had yet to reflect that.) Asked about crime and whether the city could slip back to the bad old days, De Blasio emphasized vigilance but suggested that the progress wouldnt erode. The foundation we have now is fantastic, he said.
No candidate used to utter the words "fantastic" and "crime" in the same sentence, but the campaign traces the cultural shift that has transformed New York from a city of romance (think of the 1957 film An Affair to Remember), to a city of dread (1971's Panic in Needle Park; 1974's Death Wish), back to a modern urban playground (2009's New York, I Love You). Koch, Giuliani, and Bloomberg rode the Needle Park wave as long as it could hold, but times are changing.
The open question is whether New Yorks situation is unique. Would a de Blasio candidacy work in a city such as Chicago, where crime is still high, or places struggling to lure business, like a Saginaw or a Stockton? But in cities such as Washington, where yoga studios, condos, and organic markets now crowd out longtime residents, a campaign built around inequality could find some tractionassuming a candidate like de Blasio can really do anything about it.
This article appears in the Sep. 7, 2013, edition of National Journal as Unequal Time.
Well, since there have been two black on white random hate crime attacks there in the last 2 days (with both of the perpetrators proclaiming their hatred of whites before attacking) and a huge upsurge in crime in Central Park and other formerly safe public spaces in Manhattan, I’d say New Yorkers should think twice about that.
On the other hand, de Blasio is married to a black woman, and they have a son who has been appearing in ads for his father, so maybe he will defuse some of the anti-white (and anti-Hispanic and anti-Asian) hostility generated by Obama among blacks there.
Big mistake early on: Quinn wants to do away with stop and frisk. Unless she’s lying on her lousy tv ads.
Why is the kid walking around looking like JJ Walker in a 1970s sit com? And talk about pushing the race card in your face!
She's a moron. She can't help herself.
Ah, but deeply attractive!
The beauty of this is that the GOP candidate can appeal to stop-and-frisk voters. Given the immutability of gun control in NYC, most moderates and conservatives there probably support stop-and-frisk.
Don’t care. Like every other liberal mayor, he will screw it up with his nanny state agenda and then some Republican will have to clean up his mess.
What the opening of this piece should have said:
“With crime down and with fears of terrorism receding, voters are free to focus on issues such as income inequality and affordable housingand forget about how crime got down and fears of terrorism receded in the first place and elect a leftist moron who will restore crime to the streets and drive business away turning places like Times Square back into the filth infested dumps they once were.”
And so the cycle of idiocy continues. The leftists destroy, the conservatives are called in to rebuild, the voters forget how things got rebuilt and elect the liberals. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Well, his look may actually be a little more effective. He looks like a leftover black hippie preserved in amber...but that’s ok, because he might have more credibility that way, and in any case, that “look” is coming back.
When I was a teenager, most of the guys at the leftwing special public high school I attended in NY wanted to look like lefties from the 1930s (their parents’ generation) and even brought out cloth caps that hadn’t been worn by real working men since - well, the 1930s. Once in a while, I’d see caps like that on some ancient mannie in a Riker’s cafeteria on Broadway, but otherwise I saw them only on my fellow students.
The pea brained liberals have a hard time connecting cause and effect. Might it be that the cause of the supposedly lower crime rate is the “stop-and-frisk policy” which de Blasio said he would quickly do away with?
New York’s renaissance was in large part due to the money made in financial services over the last thirty years. That this created more “inequality” is a natural consequence. The only way anyone could reduce “inequality” in NY is to drive away those people and those businesses. Which would make everything more equal, but worse.
Unless of course this is all just the usual political pandering.
Has any bicycle, anywhere, ever been peddled backward, as quickly as this administration has backpeddled it’s various policy statments, since it’s inception?
That’s very funny. Yes, it may be that black boys want to look like Huey Newton. I think they look like crap.(It’s also very, very difficult to maintain!)
Plus it’s horrible to sit behind in a movie theater.
NYC has changed, in my opinion. I don’t think a Republican (liberal, of course) can get elected until the city returns to the depths of the 1970s. Of course, Bloomberg allowed the squeegees and homeless back into the city (as well as Occupy Wall St.) but I was the only one to notice.
Hah! I had a friend who would always ask big haired people who sat in front of her to MOVE. I always cringed but secretly admired her crust.
Huge upsurge in Central Park crime??? Hahaha. Good one.
There has actually been a big increase in robbery and rape in Central Park in the last year - in fact, we seem to have gone back to the “corridor” model for various events there (a protected corridor through which people were supposed to exit).
Look up the statistics.
Through September 1st, there have been six rapes in Central Park. In 2012, there were zero through September 1st. Six rapes in eight months. It's only a lot when you compare it to zero.
Through September 1st, there have been five robberies in Central Park. In 2012, there were seven robberies through September 1st.
There have been six burglaries in 2013 versus one in 2012. All in all, there have been 74 "major" crimes in 2013 as opposed to 67 in 2012. Don't look at percentages. Look at actual numbers. There is basically no "major" crime in Central Park.