Just a brief re-cap on some of ‘The People’ whom NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s been siding with:
First, a man changes over time, but this quote is from the NY Times:
‘Bill de Blasio, then 26, went to Nicaragua to help distribute food and medicine in the middle of a war between left and right. But he returned with something else entirely: a vision of the possibilities of an unfettered leftist government.
‘His activism did not stop. In the cramped Lower Manhattan headquarters of the Nicaragua Solidarity Network of Greater New York, where he volunteered, Mr. de Blasio learned to cause a stir. He and a ragtag team of peace activists, Democrats, Marxists and anarchists attempted to bring attention to a Central American cause that, after the Sandinistas lost power in a 1990 election, was fading from public view. “The Nicaraguan struggle is our struggle,” said a poster designed by the group’
Here’s Liam Neeson on the horse-drawn carriage fiasco, which has been blown into quite the cause.
As of December 8th, de Blasio’s still pushing, and here’s a gem of a quote:
‘In New York, “animal politics always trumps any other issue except racial politics,” says Mitchell Moss, urban policy professor at New York University.’
Witness the spirit of one lone Irishman willing to stand-up for the dignity of honest work, the sacred bond between man and beast, and the nameless, faceless Joes (and the Teamsters) crushed under the bootheel of Big Red Bill DeBlasio, Big Parking and Big Animal Activism.
Earth-shaking stuff (yes, there’s a little sarcasm here):
DeBlasio’s managed to get money set aside for universal Pre-K, so he’s siding with the teacher’s unions first, over many other interests.
Walter Russell Mead had an interesting analysis a while back, on some of what’s going on in New York City, and I think the conflict between police unions and their interests on one hand, and De Blasio and his interests on the other (activist, race-based protest movements and quite far Left coalitions of ‘the People’) can help to clarify some of what’s been going on lately.
‘The good government upper middle class, the entrenched groups with a solid stake in the status quo and the marginalized working or non-working poor with no prospects for advancement apart from the patronage of the state: this is the mass base of the blue electoral coalition — and the groups in the coalition don’t seem to like each other very much.
Ties That Bind
What all three groups share is a burning desire for more: a hunger and demand for ever larger amounts of government revenue and power. Money and power for the government enable the upper middle class good government types to dream up new schemes to help us all live better lives and give government the resources for the various social, ecological and cultural transformations on the ever-expandable goo-goo to-do list that range from a global carbon tax to fair trade coffee cooperatives and the war on saturated fat. All these programs (some useful in the Via Meadia view, others much less so) require a transfer of funds and authority from society at large to well-socialized, well-credentialed and well-intentioned upper middle class types who get six figure salaries to make sure the rest of us behave in accordance with their rapidly evolving notions of correct behavior.
The Times reporters represented the goo-goos at the Bronx courthouse. Sixty years ago the reporters would have had more in common with the cops, but the professionalization of journalism has made these jobs the preserve of the college educated and the upwardly mobile in status if not so much in money.
The angry and determined unionized cops represent what used to be the heart of the blue coalition: the stable urban middle middle class. In the old days, this group included a much bigger private sector component than it does now. The disappearance of manufacturing and the decline of skilled labor in most of New York means that the middle middle class, so far as it survives, depends largely on revenue from the state. The cops, the teachers, the firefighters, the sanitation and transit workers: these are most of what remains of the backbone of what used to be the organized working class.
Police tactics have perhaps peaked as hot-button issue across the country, touching on issues of overreach and abuse of State power against individuals for many libertarians, and often abuse of power against individuals as members of minorities and victim-classes for many progressives. Regardless of the sad facts of the Eric Garner case, which has been ruled a homicide, some of the pressure is going to come against current NYPD Commisioner William Bratton’s Broken Windows policing strategy which MacDonald has already written about.
From her current piece:
‘The anti-cop forces have shifted the focus of attention from the tactics used to subdue Garner after he resisted arrest—which is where attention should stay—to the very enforcement of misdemeanor laws themselves, such as the one against illegal cigarette sales. The New York Times’s lead editorial on Saturday, “Broken Windows, Broken Lives,” exemplifies this opportunistic turn against quality-of-life enforcement: “How terrible it would be if Eric Garner died for a theory, for the idea that aggressive police enforcement against minor offenders . . . is the way to a safer, more orderly city.”
Progressive sentiment and the need to keep the crime-rate low may pull de Blasio in competing directions, MacDonald reasons. I’m guessing that De Blasio can’t be seen as too far ahead of his activist coalitions, nor the kinds of sentiment expressed at the Times.
Some were speculating that the Big Apple is headed back to 70′s-style crime rates, fear and seediness. Myron Magnet, at the City Journal, recalls what it was like for him during those days, and hopes De Blasio stays strong on crime so that NYC can keep heading in the right direction.
From this NY Times previous piece on James Q Wilson’s theory:
‘But he was best known for his research on the behavior of police officers and lawbreakers. Probably his most influential theory holds that when the police emphasize the maintenance of order rather than the piecemeal pursuit of rapists, murderers and carjackers, concentrating on less threatening though often illegal disturbances in the fabric of urban life like street-corner drug-dealing, graffiti and subway turnstile-jumping, the rate of more serious crime goes down.’
MacDonald is still focusing on the victims of crime.
***Bonus-If you like hearing two local Daily News reporters discuss NYC politics with bemused and fairly cynical eyes, regardless of your political leanings, this one’s for you.