The deep animosity between Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYPD should not be all that surprising. The mayor came into office on the wings of a so-called progressive platform calling most prominently for radical reform of police department procedures respecting minorities (as well as raising taxes on the wealthy and improving the economic status of the poor and the lower middle class).
Many touted the fact that he won the mayoralty with a resounding 72 percent of the vote. Yet as we previously have pointed out, the turnout in the general election was a little less than 27 percent of eligible voters, one of the smallest in history. Yes, many who identify with the mayor’s progressive program came out to vote. But their numbers paled in comparison with the number of those who do not subscribe to that agenda.
Thus, the ongoing anti-police demonstrations are populated mainly by those who look to the likes of the Rev. Al Sharpton for leadership while most other New Yorkers are more sensitive to the problems police officers face in the field. Hence the mayor’s dilemma.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton provided an important insight the other day when he described the controversy as the “tip of the iceberg” in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” He said racial unrest “is about the continuing poverty rates, the continuing growing disparity between wealthy and the poor. It’s about unemployment issues. There are so many national issues that have to be addressed that it isn’t just policing, as I think we all well know….”
We share that view. In the dispute between New York’s mayor and the NYPD, the NYPD represents, in a real sense, the majority of New Yorkers who never signed on to the mayor’s progressive agenda. So we were happy to see that Mayor de Blasio has begun, belatedly, to be sure, reaching out to the NYPD.
But this is only the start of what’s needed for the mayor to be able to govern effectively. The next step is for him to acknowledge that most New Yorkers don’t agree with him in major respects as to what’s right for New York.