Yesterday New York City inaugurated a new mayor, who has promised to fix things. This will make life interesting for New Yorkers again after twenty years of relative calm under Giuliani and Bloomberg, who were, of course, pawns of the crypto-corporate oligarchy responsible for inflicting income inequality, bike lanes and safer streets on the oppressed majority.
The new mayor is a Democrat, which makes some people nervous. He is also a “progressive” Democrat, which makes some people even more nervous. Finally, he is a progressive Democrat with no managerial experience whatever, which makes some people very nervous indeed, especially when they think about how he is going to negotiate new contracts with 300,000 municipal union members who are most eager to obtain retroactive pay raises totaling in the billions of dollars.
Billions of dollars may not, in fact, be enough to fund the new mayor’s ambitions, which are sweeping, to say the least. His aims are laudable, and no one would oppose them in principle. He wants to expand free preschool education to all the city’s children. He wants to address income inequality by “taxing the rich.” He wants to make New York “affordable” for “ordinary people.” And he wants to end police harassment of innocent youths while keeping the crime rate low.
To be fair, during his campaign, the mayor freely admitted that these objectives were “largely aspirational.” This we take to signify that he has no real idea how he will go about achieving them, but that puts him in good company, as we already have a commander-in-chief who wrestles with an identical malady. We hope the new mayor has been watching this and learning, because Obama’s solution to addressing complex problems involves looking us straight in the eye while he lies through his teeth, and even New Yorkers can’t handle two chief executives handing out that brand of balls-out bullshit. We suspect that, however positively the new mayor likes to think, he most likely does not believe for one second that Obamacare actually lowers insurance costs or that the enrollment websites are now “fully functional.” Or that the budget deficit has been “cut in half.” Or that — well, you know.
One disturbing note has already been sounded. Speaker after speaker at the inauguration yesterday extolled the new mayor’s visions for a more inclusive city, with a fairer distribution of prosperity and a more evenhanded approach to law and order, with higher wages for lower income earners and a stronger safety net for the needy, and better schools and more comprehensive civil services — all the while casting a strong stink-eye at the departing mayor (who sat, like a discarded shoe, on the edge of the onstage crowd of dignitaries) and referring to his tenure in bluntly disparaging terms. In fact, not one speaker, including the new mayor, offered him one word of praise, one measure of respect, or one hint of gratitude for his service to New York City.
For people who profess such grand “aspirations,” this is pretty small-minded behavior. We wonder about it. And now, we wait to see what happens. The time for talking is over. What will you do, Mr. Mayor?