UPDATE: Bill de Blasio Leaps To First Place In Democratic NY Mayor Primary: Quinnipiac Poll (of course we take full credit for this sudden leap)
We don’t often discuss politics here, but after 130 years of Bloomberg we’re ready for a true liberal to hold office. Now that the press has finally shut up about Weiner, why not pay attention to the only real progressive in the race, Bill DeBlasio. We like Quinn too, but New York deserves better:
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has also presented some useful ideas and impressed us with her willingness to engage in hand-to-hand combat with the Bloomberg administration on certain issues, such as the city’s harmful homelessness policies. But as speaker, she has all too often used her power to protect corporate and real estate interests and to block measures intended as a progressive counterweight to the Bloomberg agenda. Most egregiously, she refused for more than two years to allow a vote on paid-sick-leave legislation. And, of course, she played a central role in overturning term limits in 2008, thus helping Bloomberg and herself to four more years in office. New Yorkers had already voted twice in favor of term limits, and they deserved better. They deserved politicians who would honor their explicitly stated will.
Here’s what the New Yorker has to say about DeBlasio:
The Bloomberg years have been very good ones for people who can afford to live in Park Slope and places like it. Crime in high-income neighborhoods is infinitesimal. The subway that takes de Blasio’s guy to the majestic skyscraper is relatively clean, orderly, and reliable. The food choices are dizzyingly various and excellent, and there’s an artisanal shop on every block. Farmers’ markets spring up on Saturday morning, near newly painted bike lanes and refurbished playgrounds and swimming pools for the kids. Parental contributions keep the local public schools in chalk, music teachers, and “sustainable education”; and, if that isn’t good enough, private-school choices abound. Yes, life is ridiculously expensive and inconvenient—the frigid dawn lineup that Sunday in February for Carmelo the Science Fellow!—but Bloomberg’s New York is a city that works extremely well if you make somewhere in the six figures. If you do, you might well find yourself thinking, I get the inequality thing, I like what de Blasio’s saying—but is he going to mess everything up?
Implicit in this question is the idea that New York can’t work extremely well for everyone, that it’s something of an I-win-you-lose, zero-sum game here, and if you start undoing a few of the Bloomberg policies that have benefitted prosperous New Yorkers, or at least pulling and poking at them here and there, then everything is going to start ripping open and fall apart. The unions will get too strong, the poor will get too demanding, the tax base will erode, the cops will go on the take, and the subways will start to bear early warning signs of graffiti. You don’t have to be a senior fellow of the Manhattan Institute to know that there’s a long way for the city to fall.
Of course, there’s another view: that the rampant inequality that characterizes every aspect of New York life is not just a moral blight on our era but also, ultimately, a threat to New York’s economic viability and social peace. According to this view, the theme of de Blasio’s speech should be the foundation of debate and discussion in the last weeks of the Democratic primary—better late than never—and in the fall’s general election, whoever gets the nominations. De Blasio’s chance of becoming the next mayor depends in part on whether voters, including sympathetic liberals, see in him a politician with the courage to face the city’s biggest, hardest problem, or the beginning of the end of a golden age. Better to ask yourself the question than pretend that it doesn’t exist.