Bill de Blasio’s liberal agenda

Tom Bonan, Staff Writer

The trend over the last 40 years of political history in industrial countries has not been in the favor of strong, left-leaning politicians. Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Barack Obama–just to name a few–have all pinned themselves as moderate conservatives for this very reason. However, new Mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio is reversing this trend entirely.

Though New York is a liberal city, it is no exception to this moderate conservative phenomenon, giving rise to business-oriented mainstream conservatives of the likes of Ed Koch and Michael Bloomberg for decades. As of last fall, de Blasio, an avowed leftist who worked for both former President Bill Clinton and Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, came to be seen as a radical shift in that paradigm.

Former Mayor Bloomberg has been championed for his imperial-style mayoralty, significantly mitigating both crime and problems with the city’s image. Many see his administration as being responsible for returning New York back to the days of yesteryear when it was a booming metropolis and the center of urban progress throughout the world. Others instead see two separate cities: one where arrant poverty is ignored and one filled with America’s metropolitan elite.

The current mayor ran on a platform of “unequal cities,” a term that he coined in a speech last May, helping propel him significantly past his Republican challenger. De Blasio’s attention focused on a sustainable method of taking residents out of poverty, focusing on funding Pre-K programs that would be widely accessible, taxing income over $500,000 a year, ending stop-and-frisk among the city’s police officers–policies that were in stark contrast to Bloomberg’s pro-development approach.

De Blasio’s campaign and governance style really sits in a different age: he feeds off of a network of public support and local connections that have propelled him to the most powerful mayoral office in the country. Just last week he worked out a deal to dramatically expand his city’s pre-kindergarten program without needing to raise taxes, achieving his main campaign promise within a few months of being elected. His new goal will be to allow the city’s average citizens to access affordable housing, a goal that hasn’t been seen in a while.

The ubiquitous lack of progressive leadership in the country seemed to be permanent given the slow decline of liberal policy objectives and the rise of the ultra-conservative wing of the Republican Party, but de Blasio is at the forefront of a new brand of urban populism. The success of his administration, though still early in its first term, may possibly be a model for liberal reform throughout the country–we’ll just have to wait and see.

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