Liberals across the country are looking to Bill de Blasio, who was sworn in as mayor early Wednesday, to morph New York City’s municipal machinery into a closely watched laboratory for populist theories of government that have never before been enacted on such a large scale.
The elevation of an assertive, tax-the-rich liberal to the nation’s most prominent municipal office has fanned hopes that hot-button causes like universal prekindergarten and low-wage worker benefits — versions of which have been passed in smaller cities — could be aided by the imprimatur of being proved workable in New York.
“The mayor has a remarkable opportunity to make real many progressive policies and prove their merit,” said Gavin Newsom, the lieutenant governor of California.
I'm thinking that perhaps this sort of lab experiment is what this country needs right about now. Sadly (for those who'd like to see such an experiment play out. Not, ironically, for NYC residents), however, the Mayor can't arbitrarily implement all the promises that won him the election. Clearly, he won't get it all done, which is probably the best thing for his political career: as George Will suggested the other day, Justice Roberts did President Obama no political favor by saving the Affordable Care Act. And I suspect De Blasio isn't quite that ignorant anyway---in fact I suspect the opposite: A successful politician knows how to promise the moon---knowing that the moon's out of reach---and knows that he can blame his opponents for sabotaging a mission that would have landed his starry-eyed followers on the most desolate soil (he'll have them believing the other side stole them from his make-[them]-believe land of milk and honey).
So, while, along with personal liberty, employment (of the very folks who he's there to "help") in New York City will surely suffer at the hands of its new mayor, I don't know that we'll get to see many progressive policies "prove their merit".
Well shoot, I guess I just did what I sat down thinking I'd do after all. Though once I started typing I thought a cheerier New Year's Day message was in order. I figured I'd open with a little De Blasio then move on to my wildly optimistic view of the future. But, alas, stories like his are hard to resist. As for my wild optimism, anything I might offer up this morning would simply be a long version of the closing paragraph from our year-end message to clients. So here you go:
While there’s plenty in terms of geo-political risk to concern ourselves with at present, the future holds as much promise today as it has at any time in history. Yes, mistakes, particularly mistakes of policy, will be made. And yes, such mistakes will deliver hurdles and setbacks in the years to come. And yet future generations will witness the advancement of the human condition in ways we can’t even begin to imagine. The ultimate pace of that advancement will be determined by the extent to which we possess the freedom to pursue our individual objectives, and the freedom to conduct business in the global marketplace going forward.
Near-term, I remain cautious. Long-term—bumpy roads notwithstanding—I remain wildly optimistic.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!