Dante de Blasio is the 15-year-old who upended the New York City mayoral election and propelled his father to the lead.
He did it by appearing in a 30-second campaign ad for his dad, Bill de Blasio. He sits alone in his family’s kitchen, his eyes averted from the lens to a script that says his father is the only one with the courage to break with “the Bloomberg years.” He says his dad would tax the rich to fund education and build affordable housing and provide a viable alternative to the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk tactics.
But it’s not the message that’s transformative. It is the messenger, and it has nothing to do with the fact that he’s multiracial.
Dante comes across as exactly himself, an immensely likable teenager, with an audacious afro that is a homage to Jimi Hendrix, and a voice that is notably confident but not the least strident. He has no love for the camera. He is clearly there because he loves his dad.
And it is just as clear that he is a kid who feels loved.
The brief cut to the candidate and his wife, Chirlane McCray, in the kitchen is more a shot of Dante’s mom and dad.
Dante then reappears as the happy result of their union.
Here is the opposite of scandal.
Here is what the future looks like.
Here is what true New York looks like.
If you love the city, you have to love this kid.
The last scene is of Dante walking down a city street in an unzipped Brooklyn hoodie with his dad at his side. Dante says in a voiceover that Bill de Blasio would represent every New Yorker, no matter where they live or what they look like.
“And I’d say that even if he weren’t my dad,” Dante says.
But, as his father raises a paternal hand to the shoulder of a son who would do any parent proud, it is less a shot of the son with the father than the father with the son. It’s the younger de Blasio who is the compelling figure.
Dante makes the older de Blasio seem less just another reflexive lefty than a real dad, a guy who would want the best for his kid and therefore yours.
To see the father with the son is to wonder if this is a candidate who might actually be worthy of your vote.