Four Ways to Make the Most of a De Blasio Mayoralty

Roundup: Historians' Take
tags: New York City, Bill de Blaiso

Nick Juravich is a graduate student in the history department at Columbia University. He blogs about the Crown Heights neighborhood in Brooklyn at www.ilovefranklinave.blogspot.com.

The progressive Democrat is going to win today’s race for mayor of New York City, but what his victory will mean remains to be seen. As those who seek progressive changes in government and society should know, their work begins, not ends, when their preferred candidates win office.

Bill de Blasio is going to win despite the Republican candidate Joe Lhota’s tireless efforts to link de Blasio to the city’s last Democratic mayor, David Dinkins, and the chaos that reigned under Dinkins’s administration from 1990 to 1993. While Lhota’s hapless flailing has not and should not have concerned de Blasio, the challenges that Dinkins faced should very much be on his mind, and ours.

The parallels are worth noting. De Blasio, like Dinkins, is an amiable, left-of-center Democrat taking over for a three-term centrist with an outsize personality and a huge and varied legacy whose third term was marred by flatlining achievements and divisive racism (Ed Koch’s increasing attacks on “poverty pimps” and African-American leaders, Bloomberg’s increasingly aggressive defenses of stop-and-frisk). In various polls and man-on-the-street interviews, New Yorkers have expressed their fondness for de Blasio’s empathy, kindness, and relatability, as they did for Dinkins. Meanwhile, those who were increasingly locked out of City Hall during Bloomberg’s last term, including unions, community organizations, and housing advocates, have coalesced into a coalition that has ably countered Lhota’s efforts to cloak himself in Bloomberg and Giuliani’s mantle, much as they helped Dinkins overcome Ed Koch’s incumbency in 1989....

Read entire article at Dissent Magazine

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