Despite our dismay over much of the rhetoric that abounded during Bill de Blasio’s inauguration ceremony as New York City’s new mayor last week, we nevertheless stand by our endorsement in the November 5 election.
We continue to believe that ideology will fade in the face of hard reality. The severely limited resources available to the new mayor will drive his administration despite his doubtlessly sincere commitment to the long list of liberal social programs he believes would improve the lives of economically and socially challenged New Yorkers.
Notwithstanding the bouquets he threw to a “progressive agenda,” Mayor de Blasio also spoke of “a city government’s first responsibilities,” which he said included the need “to keep our neighborhoods safe; to keep our streets clean; to ensure that those who live here – and those who visit – can get where they need to go in every borough.”
All of that presupposes a continuation of the war against crime and terrorism and finding the money to pay for municipal services. Above all there is the challenge of promoting economic growth, and Mr. de Blasio is too smart not to appreciate that while the “trickle down” theory of economic growth is not something he likes on ideological grounds, the alternative “trickle up” theory is not a reasonable substitute and will not be allowed to destroy the city’s economic base.
Moreover, while Mr. de Blasio defeated Republican Joe Lhota in a landslide, 73.3 percent to 24.3 percent, voter turnout was historically low. In actual numbers the result was 752, 604 to 249,121. There are 4.1 million registered voters in New York, and Mr. de Blasio received approximately 23 percent of that number – hardly a “progressive” mandate.
We were therefore disturbed by the new mayor’s rather bland reaction to the off-the-wall comments – which included savaging Michael Bloomberg and referring to New York City as a “plantation” – made by some of the inaugural speakers. Mr. de Blasio shrugged off the radical rhetoric by saying that “everybody who spoke at the inauguration spoke from the heart, talked about their own understanding of our city, and what we need to do to move our city forward.”
To be sure, the new mayor asked his audience to “acknowledge the incredible commitment of [Mr. Bloomberg]” and he listed some of the outgoing mayor’s achievements. But the day’s general tone was one of triumphal leftism, which doesn’t bode well if Mr. de Blasio is serious about achieving a spirit of unity in the city. He needs to take care that this divisive mentality doesn’t overtake and corrode his administration.