De Blasio’s New York Should Be a Warning to Democrats
Voters think the Dems have gone too far to the left, but the party’s leaders don’t seem to care.
The Democrats have plenty of reason to fear a blow-out in next year’s midterms—and Bill de Blasio's New York City helps to explain why.
The party's defeats up and down the ballot in Virginia were no one-off. A red wave also swept over Long Island, just to the east of New York City. There, Republicans recaptured the Nassau County executive slot and district attorney’s office and unseated the incumbent Suffolk County DA. With polls showing Republicans favored by an unprecedented 10 points on the generic congressional ballot, there’s no question that the suburbs are back in play without Trump on the ballot.
Virginia voters’ rejection of Terry McAuliffe’s claim that parents should not “be telling schools what they should teach” is a reminder that taxpaying parents are not bystanders to their children’s education. Two plus two equals four is an objective fact—few outside of academe believe the equation to be a construct engineered by an oppressive patriarchy. At the end of the day, there is hell to pay if the family checkbook or Wall Street’s ledgers don’t add-up.
Right now, the Democrats are looking flat-footed and tone-deaf. Nationally, they have vowed to push back “aggressively” against Republican charges that progressive school systems have made critical race theory and white privilege cornerstones of the educational experience. Skepticism is warranted as the Democrats struggle with the competing demands of their upstairs-downstairs coalition, one that is also forced to worry about what AOC is thinking.
Despite rising crime, the Biden administration has attacked cash bail in the name of racial equity. Just remember, it was South Carolina’s James Clyburn, the No. 3 Democrat in the House, who lamented the left wing of his party making “defund the police” their battle-cry.
Meanwhile, Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice is expected to offer a full-throated defense of race-based affirmative action before the U.S. Supreme Court in the Harvard admissions case. In case anyone forgot, California’s voters resoundingly rejected that path at the same time they were saying “no” to a second Trump term.
Meanwhile in the Bronx and Westchester, Jamaal Bowman, the latest addition to the Squad, has a difficult time explaining how he simultaneously voted against the infrastructure bill, but supports local funding from the BIF, and backs raising the cap on deductions for the property taxes paid by his higher-earning constituents. For a Democrat to stiff working and middle-income voters but give the rich a tax-break is political incontinence to say the least.
Against this track record, don’t be surprised if the Democrats’ strategy for 2022 fails. Heck, Bill de Blasio, the city’s hapless mayor who made his own pathetic presidential bid in 2020, is showing no contrition whatsoever. As he gears up to run for governor, the city’s Department of Education announced that students will not be guaranteed a spot at their local high school.
So much for treating parents as stakeholders, or the local public school as part of its surrounding community. In a word, the things that suburbia takes for granted are to be ladled out as baubles in the five boroughs.
To be sure, DOE’s pronouncement is something less than final, and in the face of parental pushback even de Blasio may be having cold feet. In the end, Eric Adams, the city’s incoming mayor, will likely be making the final decision, and from the looks of things he “gets” it.
Still, de Blasio’s signal is consistent with his previously announced opposition to strict merit-based admissions at New York’s elite public high schools. There is a reason families with school-aged children leave, and that enrollment has plummeted to the point where the city is desperately hiding those numbers and refusing to provide a grade-by-grade breakdown.
All this has already exacted a political toll. Although New York City is overwhelmingly Democratic, strains appeared in its Asian American communities in the recent mayoral election. Curtis Sliwa, Adams’ Republican opponent, eked out an embarrassing 29 percent of the vote, but still managed to land “44 percent of the vote in precincts where more than half of the residents are Asian—surpassing his 40 percent of votes in white enclaves, 20 percent in majority-Hispanic districts and 6 percent in majority-Black districts.”
In addition to New York’s high murder rate, a record number of bias crimes perpetrated against Asians (124 in 2021 v. 28 in 2020) and Jews (164 in 2021 v. 111 in 2020), education played a role in Sliwa punching above his weight in Asian enclaves. His support for “merit-based SHSAT,” the gate-keeping exam to academic powerhouses like Stuyvesant and Bronx Science, coupled with plans to expand gifted and talented programs, helped him avert total electoral disaster.
And there are more storm clouds. According to a new report from the city’s controller, “excluding moves marked as ‘temporary,’ net out-migration from the city increased by an estimated 130,837 from March 2020 through June 2021, as compared to pre-pandemic trends.” In other words, COVID made some of New York’s wealthier denizens reassess the surroundings, and they realized they didn’t like what they were seeing.
On that score, an expected change to the rules governing home mortgages will likely reinforce this trend. A recent Wall Street Journal headline blared: “Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac to Back Home Loans of Nearly $1 Million as Prices Soar”. Larchmont offers great schools, sports, and less crime.
As ever, culture counts. These days, just over half of Americans (52 percent) believe the Democratic Party has moved too far to the left, but only 35 percent say the Republican Party has moved too far to the right. Right now, the Democrats need to wake up and smell the coffee: It’s burning.