Marx and the City: Will the World’s Financial Capital Survive de Blasio?
Political pendulums swing. After a certain number of years where there is political dominance by one party or another, it is not unusual in our system for voters to grow restless and want change. Our nation’s largest and most influential city is in the midst of one of these shifts. It’s been 20 years since a Democrat was elected Mayor of Gotham, and today the left is salivating at the possibility of regaining its seat of power in lower Manhattan.
Here’s the problem: New York’s notoriously late primary has led to the selection — as primaries often do — of an extremist; a man David Webb and I recently dubbed “the most dangerous man in New York,” Bill de Blasio.
Let’s be clear, Bill de Blasio isn’t dangerous simply because he represents a leftward shift for New York. He’s not dangerous because he’s a Democrat in a city of Democrats. He’s dangerous because, as the New York Times Magazine pointed out in its exposé this past Sunday, because he’s as close as you can get to being a Marxist without actually standing on a street corner handing out little red books. For all we know, he may have done that too.
The NYT Magazine piece is shocking. It tells the story of a radical who went to Nicaragua to support the brutal Sandinista government in the 1980’s and man who extolled the virtues of Marx and his own naïve misinterpretation of Roosevelt’s New Deal policies to anyone who would listen. Even today, Bill de Blasio, the man who is favored to be the next mayor of New York admits “his views then — and now — represented a mix of admiration for European social democratic movements…”
By the 1990’s de Blasio had shifted his attention from Nicaragua to vocally supporting Castro’s failing government in Cuba. He even chose to honeymoon in Cuba in violation of U.S. law. Yes, that’s right. The man likely to be the next mayor of the financial capital of the world took his new wife to Cuba for their honeymoon.
As the 90’s went forward, according to the NYT Magazine, de Blasio became “increasingly…distressed by what he saw as 'timidity' in the Democratic Party, as it moved to the political center in the dawning of the Clinton era.”
Critics of his Sandinista movement charged that de Blasio and his group of American “missionaries” were “gullible” and far more interested in opposing the Reagan Administration than actually doing anything to help people. But isn’t that the great contradiction of progressivism in the first place? Bold statements about how the less fortunate need to be helped by more government intervention that only ends up exacerbating the problems it purports to solve.
Multi-generational government dependency is a clear and present problem in New York and American society. It endangers our future as a nation. Bill de Blasio is proud to cling to the failed policies of the European Socialists. He is proud to call for tax increases, billions in giveaways to public employee union bosses, an end to corporate incentives, and policies that tie the hands of police.
The contradiction played out just a few weeks ago when – ever the activist – de Blasio was arrested for protesting the closure of a New York hospital. He said he wanted to help save jobs, but of course, failed to mention that the hospital's costs were unsustainable due to the healthcare workers’ union that supports his campaign. He attended another protest rally soon after demanding fast food restaurants like McDonalds raise their wages to $15 an hour. Of course, if he got his way, he’d have nothing to say to the low-wage workers who would be out of work because of the policy.
There has been a lot of grousing over the years from folks on the right about how both Rudy and Bloomberg were terrible Republicans. Those critics miss the point. It was important for the concepts of free enterprise, fiscal conservatism, and common sense government that both those men had their hands on the wheel of the nation’s most influential city. It was important for America to have its great gateway city be a place that was welcoming, safe, and open for business.
Come January, however, it may slide backward at the hands of policies that pit the rich against the poor, increase crime and lead to more middle class flight. It will lead to jobs heading not only out of the Big Apple but to places overseas. It will lead to the continued nickel and diming of our society, all at the hands of a mayor who thinks government is the only solution to the chronic problems that still ail this city.
The real estate boom which is starting to return to Manhattan depends on the ability of developers to find tenants for those towering new skyscrapers. De Blasio would send a chill through that market. Boris Johnson over in London is licking his chops over the banking industry moving even more personnel to the U.K. High tech companies, still tepid about New York as a location, will find Austin far more hospitable.
In the end, this Marxist rebel without a cause is far more dangerous than previously thought and I’m sure there is more to come. His high-minded “tale of two cities” rhetoric would only end up ensnaring more and more New Yorkers in the dependency trap. A de Blasio mayoralty left unchecked by fiscally-conservative and moderate New Yorkers will perpetuate the great American Progressive contradiction and its apostles’ belief that you can fool all of the people all of the time. A great urban renaissance will come to an end.
Thomas J. Basile is a political commentator and writer. Learn more about him at TJBasile.com. Follow him on Twitter @TJBasile.