WASHINGTON, November 6, 2013 — Tuesday’s mayoral election delivered a landslide victory for Bill de Blasio against the former MTA Chairman and Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota. City Hall, occupied by Republicans for the last two decades, is back in the hands of liberals.
So what does a de Blasio administration mean for New Yorkers, and the future of the Big Apple? De Blasio has proven to be more than just a Democrat; he’s a progressive liberal, something New York hasn’t seen since the days of the late New York City Mayor Robert F. Wagner, Jr.
In fact, de Blasio‘s previous stance on higher taxes for social based programs, advocacy against stop and frisk, and strong support of local unions already give a quick glimpse of what to expect under the de Blasio administration. The former NYC public advocate will already have high expectations in his first 100 days in office, which is a big opportunity for the Democratic establishment — both in New York and in Washington.
De Blasio most likely won’t be a progressively liberal mayor, as anticipated by the far right; he can’t afford to be. New York City has a long tradition of being at the forefront of commerce, trade, and global enterprise. Even if de Blasio wanted to push an extreme liberal agenda, he would immediately run into powerful resistance and national scrutiny; everyone on the planet knows who the mayor of New York City is.
New York is more than just a large city. It is a global center of finance, trade, fashion, media and entertainment. It isn’t just a big city; it’s a great city. It is inhabited by the super rich, but also by people who can barely afford to pay the rent. The errors of the mayor of New York aren’t just local news; they’re national and international.
But so are the successes. Success at running New York turns a mayor into a national political force.
De Blasio’s victory gives him a much bigger social media platform in the Democratic establishment. He has an amplified voice. The Democratic establishment will have to deal with de Blasio if they want the Democratic Party to succeed in upcoming state and federal elections. He will lead a city that is more willing than most to move in a liberal direction. In a recent survey by the Huffington Post, most New Yorkers claimed they weren’t happy with the growing rate of unemployment, and didn’t mind forcing rich people and corporations to simply pay more in taxes.
That survey does point to a potential problem. New Yorkers want better educational attainment for their children, which could put de Blasio in a tough situation with his supporters in the United Federation of Teachers.
Perhaps the most important question for de Blasio is whether his political agenda will be more mainstream liberal or progressive, and how this affects Democratic national politics leading up to 2016. If national polls indicate that the country is center right, then de Blasio’s liberal agenda in New York will reduce his own chances of a national role, and it could harm the eventual Democratic nominee. But the party is moving leftward; even President Obama has faced criticism for not being liberal enough.
Can de Blasio govern New York? His first 100 days as mayor will show whether he’s able to move from ally to adversary of municipal and education unions, as well as special interest groups. He will be expected to deal with the politics of Albany and Washington simultaneously; whether it’s housing, homeland security or tax related issues, his ability to govern will be strongly tested in that first hundred days.
Conservatives and skeptics on the right still remain a bit perplexed that a man who has never held a corporate job is now in charge of the largest city and one of the largest budgets in the country. Most nations have smaller budgets than New York. Even some establishment Democrats would gladly have given the mayorship to any of the other Democratic candidates rather than de Blasio. But just as we saw six years ago with President Obama, a skillfully executed campaign can always break expectations and barriers. Perhaps a de Blasio administration will quickly show that left-liberal policies still have a place in America.
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