Politics Magazine

New York Chooses A Dash of Liberalism

Posted on the 07 November 2013 by Thepoliticalidealist @JackDarrant

The US has had its first spate of elections since the Presidential vote in 2012. The governorships of New Jersey and Virginia were contested, as was the Mayoralty of New York City. There were no great surprises: the moderate Republican Chris Christie (who is to the GOP what Ken Clarke is to the Conservative Party) was comfortably re-elected in Democratic-leaning NJ, whist the Democrats secured victory in Virginia.

But, as the title suggests, this post is centred on New York, where Bill de Blasio (D) defeated Joe Lhota (R) with a majority of about 45%- that’s right: de Blasio has won an astounding 72% of the vote. What makes this even more surprising to an outsider is that de Blasio is about as leftwing as it is possible to be in American politics, described as an old-fashioned tax-and-spend liberal. Although genuine liberals are all too often out of fashion in the Democratic Party, it seems that de Blasio’s positions on issues such as the eye-watering inequality that exists in his city (and a police force that’s slightly too trigger happy with its anti-terror powers) have struck a chord with New Yorkers.

In my country, New York is seen as a city of glamour, towering apartment blocks, busy and often aggressive people, and a bustling metropolis where millionaire bankers and the downtrodden working class live and work in startling proximity. In many ways, NYC is simply a reflection of London twenty years or so into the future.

(By the way, the original York is infinitely better than both its namesake and London: it’s a leafy, people-shaped city in which there is a calmer approach to life.)

So when de Blasio talked of “two cities”, communities of rich and poor who share the same physical space but live entirely lives, he has identified an awful trend which is fracturing our societies as they have never been divided in the modern age. It’s the sort of ‘soft segregation’ that will make harmonious democracy impossible if we allow it to grow and reinforce itself unchecked.

Of course, there are severe limitations to the powers of the Mayor of New York, and the progressive tax rises de Blasio has pledged will need the approval of New York state in Albany. Even then, the “two cities” cannot be bridged by fairer taxes and homebuilding alone: no, the national and international corridors of power will have to be stormed to tackle inequality. But we have to start somewhere, and where better than the Mayor’s office?

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