New York City’s mayor will win another term today. How do we explain this?
It’s election day, and here in New York there isn’t much going on outside of the city in terms of races. (I live outside the Big Apple in a small village. I arrived one hour after the polls opened and was registered as voter number nine.) But down in Gotham they are electing the next Mayor which is kind of a big deal, even in terms of national politics. Or I should say that they’re electing the same mayor again.
Absent some sort of heavenly intervention of some really successful Russian meddling, New Yorkers will once again elect Bill de Blasio to lead the city for four more years, assuming he doesn’t drop out and run for President in 2020. (And it’s no secret inside Empire State politics that he desperately wants to do so.) The question on the minds of many people at this point has to be… why? The Mayor makes all sorts of headlines on a regular basis, but they’re almost uniformly bad. He’s been nothing short of an embarrassment to a city with a long history of making curiously awful picks for City Hall. At Business Insider, Josh Barro claims that it’s because the press gets it mostly wrong and de Blasio has actually done a fine job.
Like a lot of New Yorkers, I can’t believe I’m going to vote for Bill de Blasio on Tuesday. But I’m going to, and so will most of you, whether you like him or not.
Our widely grumbled-about mayor is cruising to reelection for a simple reason: He seems to be doing a very good job.
Police-community relations are improved. Crime continues to fall. Universal prekindergarten has been implemented. Quality of life in New York City seems to be improving a little, or at least not getting worse. Rents are even falling a little bit, in real terms.
Your stereotypical politician talks a good game and fails to deliver. De Blasio does the opposite: He spouts a bunch of annoying nonsense while surreptitiously doing his job well.
I’m not going to immediately dismiss Barro’s assertion here, as much as it sounds like something from an episode of the Twilight Zone. He’s pointing out a couple of facts which, while maddening at times, are realities in American politics. Some things in New York are undeniably getting better. Violent crime is down. And I mean way down. New York City has recorded fewer murders than both Chicago and Baltimore, both of which are very small by comparison in terms of population. The economy is up and unemployment is low. And whether you’re talking about national, state or local elected officials, when you’re the one in charge when the ship hits an iceberg, you get the blame. But when it’s smooth sailing you get the credit, deserved or not.
It’s that last phrase which puts the fly in Barro’s ointment, however. Bill de Blasio deserves credit for virtually none of those things. Crime is down because, as the author himself admits, New York can afford a huge police force with a police union that’s figured out how to work with their Commissioner and get the job done. As for the mayor, the cops have actually turned their backs on him when he comes out to make speeches. He hasn’t driven any innovative policies to account for the drop in crime. That was just the cops figuring out how to best do their jobs.
The economy is up in New York City, but it’s up all over the country. Much of their prosperity rides on the tides of Wall Street, which has been riding a wild bull for a while now. Does Bill de Blasio take credit for that? Don’t make me laugh.
Mostly, Bill de Blasio is known for having been investigated for one campaign finance scandal after another. He spends a lot of his time napping in his office when he’s not commuting back and forth in a taxpayer-funded motorcade to work out at his gym. He tries to fight against Uber (which is massively popular in the city) and makes speeches about a broad range of far-left socialist causes which never seem to come to fruition. And he’s obviously more interested in making himself a national figure in the Democratic Party than doing a good job for New York. For Pete’s sake… when they invited him to introduce the guest of honor on Groundhog Day he wound up murdering the poor creature.
In short, Bill de Blasio is the benefactor of external forces which make New York continue to work in spite of him, not because of him. But he’s the only game in town for the Democrats and only Democrats can be elected to city-wide office these days. (Bloomberg doesn’t count because he was always a member of whichever party would have him at the moment.) With all that in mind, there are definitely reasons that de Blasio will be handed another term as mayor, but it’s not because he’s, “surreptitiously doing his job well“