Bill de Blasio: Hope on Hold


Bill de Blasio’s victory in the mayoral election tonight may seem like a triumph of progressivism and a rejection of outgoing Mayor Bloomberg’s Wall Street agenda, but it is clearly an accident, and it remains to be seen what lies in New York’s future. It’s got to be more than a big red sign that reads P-R-O-G-R-E-S-S.

It was a perfect storm for the Cambridge, Mass, native, whose victory may be the first for Democrats in 20 years, but also insures that a Boston-area native will be mayor for 16 consecutive years. Several factors were crucial in de Blasio’s victory:

1) Bloomberg, recently ascended to 10th richest man in the world according to Forbes magazine, clearly did not place a high priority on determining his successor. Otherwise, he would not have given the half-hearted push he gave to Christine Quinn, a clearly flawed and underwhelming candidate.

2) Anthony Weiner, whose proposal for a single-payer health insurance plan for city residents was wildly to the left of de Blasio, self-destructed in a way that even Bill Clinton could not imagine.

3) John Liu, who had the potential to lead a groundbreaking Asian-Latino-African American-liberal white coalition to victory, was sabotaged by a dubious scandal and the denial of $3.5 million of public matching funds to his campaign in an iffy decision.

4) Sarah Scheindlin’s stop-and-frisk opinion, since overturned, was a rare instance of a legal decision validating a progressive political position, giving de Blasio, last progressive standing, sudden, immense credibility.

5) Brooklyn, currently perceived as New York’s cutting edge, is at that fantasy utopian stage of mid-gentrification–much like the Lower East Side in the early to mid-1990s–where the illusion is created that New York is a multiracial, multicultural, liberal utopia that makes for great TV ads.

6) Joe Lhota is a joke.

I was at the Midtown hotel where David Dinkins celebrated his 1989 victory over Rudolph Giuliani, and it was a hopeful night indeed. While he was in many ways a pleasant and gracious mayor, of course highly preferable to Giuliani, Dinkins was a tedious, underperforming middle-ground mayor who actually was the first to appoint Ray “stop and frisk” Kelly as police commissioner. He also oversaw the yearlong closure of Tompkins Square Park, removing its historic bandshell and in a way completing the process that provoked the infamous 1988 riot. His lasting legacy: a tennis complex in Flushing that Giuliani eventually used to attack him as an elitist.

Let’s not forget how we felt in 2008 when Obama won. People were out in the streets, delirious with joy. The incredible racist Tea Party reaction against him notwithstanding, the guy surrounded himself with Larry Summers and Wall Street, failed to initiate any kind of immigration reform while deporting record numbers of undocumented, failed to close Guantánamo, and was recently quoted as being psyched about the cleanliness of the drone targeted assassination program that manages to “accidentally” kill a considerable number of innocent people.

Granted, Bill de Blasio seems a bit funkier than Barry Obama, a bit less preppy and Ivy. And he doesn’t have a City Council packed with lunatics who want to bring back Tom Delay and Strom Thurmond for a celebration of the good old days of the Confederacy. But I’m holding out till I see something sustained from the guy. I want to see a real rain come down on the 1 per cent stranglehold on my people. I want to see people that I know working at City Hall, making decisions, progressive decisions. I want to take New York back from the tone-deaf technocrats. Let’s see if Bill can do that.

Then maybe I’ll get excited.


3 thoughts on “Bill de Blasio: Hope on Hold

  1. There is a segment of the US population that is beyond allowing themselves to by swept away by superficial changes of any guard. As mentioned in Galarza’s article (gracias, David) both President Obama and now Bill DeBlasio are examples of it, as was former Mayor David Dinkins. What the article alludes to is a let down of the expectations of what changes could have be achieved. I believe that David also touches on the celebration of the figure head of change and not on the accomplishment of change.
    I remember people speaking about the changes in demographics as the “browning” of America (referring only to the US and not the continent). The focus of what was termed the browning referred to the cookie and the not the “creaming, frosty middle” and in there lies the meaning of real change.
    We’re all happy that there is someone (anyone really) other than another wealthy white man as president, but, what does it mean if a record number of undocumented people were deported? What does it mean if this new president surrounds him or herself with the very type that have caused the consolidation of wealth to even a smaller number of people, have created the mass hysteria of the proverbial “spook who sat by the door” surveillance era, and is holding on to any meaningful form of employment for the citizens? Guantanamo, the political prisoners, and now the economic crisis of Puerto Rico rivaled only by the European money crisis.
    One final note on the happiness is the issue of “responsible” fatherhood. Why the focus on only fathers as being the only ones who have a responsibility or that aren’t living up to that responsibility? The title and outpouring or best describe as the relocation of social service funding to programs that focus on Black/Latino, urban dwelling, fathers as opposed to at risk youth or men doesn’t touch on the injustices fathers confront in being parents. There is a lot of prejudice, gender politics, and further stigmatizing and alienation of fathers that is taking place and being ignored and that is a disappointment and a let down of expectations in what was considered as being change. Let’s hope as we all do but I’ll wait to see how and why things go as they may before I cast my vote of approval as is Galarza.

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