Bill de Blasio Lifts the Left

Bill_de_Blasio_350On great matters of income inequality and social justice for what is called the 99 percent, a new star is born from the streets of New York, who has lifted the spirits of progressives everywhere. The election of Bill de Blasio as mayor of New York City creates a powerful opportunity to turn the core vision of the Occupy Wall Street movement, as well as the core teachings of Pope Francis about economic justice, into the daily workings of city government in the global center of media and finance.

Already, during his short tenure at City Hall and with his rising stature on the national stage, de Blasio has applied his “tale of two cities” campaign to real-time governing initiatives to promote a higher minimum wage for workers, improved education for the young, better treatment of immigrants, more affordable housing for the homeless and the poor, and a more just contribution from the 1 percent who prospered so greatly before the financial crash, so inequitably from the financial bailouts, and so disproportionately from the so-called recovery.

The progressive movement in America, which once mistakenly believed its great champion would be Barack Obama, has been forced to resort to what I would call an invasion of Normandy strategy as elections approach in 2014 and 2016.

For the invasion of Normandy in 1944, Dwight Eisenhower mobilized land, sea, and airborne forces to storm the beaches. As the 70th anniversary of Normandy approaches, progressive populists, whose participation — or lack of — will determine the fate of Democrats in the midterm elections, and whose support will decide the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, are regrouping to storm the political beaches again.

De Blasio is now the fourth player in the progressive populist firmament that is emerging as the heir to movements that, after previous eras of financial corruption, led to historic reform presidents such as Teddy Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The list of leading champions of the 99 percent includes, besides de Blasio:

  • Francis, whose advocacy for the downtrodden and dispossessed, and opposition to “trickle down economics” and unjust institutions, has begun to cause tremors in the tectonic plates of public opinion and political discourse;
  • Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen, whose long-term advocacy of reducing economic inequality has come with her to the high corridor of power at the Fed;
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), whose powerful voice echoes in the legislative branch and national media and has become the de facto leader of American progressives.

For those who doubt that progressive populism stands on the right side of history and politics, I ask: with the pope’s popularity approaching 90 percent, the president’s popularity approaching 40 percent, the Tea Party’s popularity approaching 20 percent and Congress’s popularity approaching 10 percent, wouldn’t successful leaders act more like the pope than the president, the Congress or the Tea Party?

De Blasio now possesses governing authority to implement major change in real time, with a friendly city council that will support his initiatives, in the global megaphone of New York City. He is a progressive populist who has a practical political streak. Unlike phony populists, de Blasio talks the talk and walks the walk. He knows the difference between selling out and making good deals.

Brent BudowskyDe Blasio faces the big challenges of governing. He will be tested. But the left is lifted by the possibility that he could evolve into a modern-day Robert Kennedy or a New York City FDR, turning city government into a laboratory for big ideas put into action. What made FDR and RFK extraordinary was their existential ability to translate great aspirations into great deeds, with the blend of idealism and realpolitik that makes good things happen.

Bill de Blasio has lifted the left and is a man to watch in 2014. I have a hunch that the next Democratic nominee for president will be watching him closely, too.

Brent Budowsky
The Hill


  1. Paul McDermott says

    Kudos to De Blasio for tackling the income inequality. But it’s the pandering to the AIPAC crowd that disturbs me.

  2. harry says

    I know some people who are planning to take their company elsewhere due to this mayor.
    If you think the-one-percent are on easy street, think again. I am writing about a different one percent of our citizens, those that serve in the nation’s military. That current one percent who are serving the remaining 99 percent lean toward the conservative part of the nation Most of them are on the receiving end of much more than just wealth or income, they are rich with pride of being the few who offer their lives if need be to protect the 99 percent of us. These men and women offer the best years of their lives to protect the rest of us from the numerous evils around the world and go anywhere to do it. Recently, our government proposed that when these military members reach their retirement age, a minimum 20 years after they joined the military or were disabled by service, they will receive the amount of retirement due at their retirement date but a new law will cause them not to receive any cost of living raises until they reach age 62. It is difficult to remain in the Army until age 62. Can you image a division of senior citizens charging the enemy or trying to defend a place from an equal number of charging enemy soldiers? This one percent of our citizens may have to live for 24 years without receiving any increase in retirement pay while the cost of living (inflation) increases. This will be the only class of workers who would be denied a cost of living allowance (COLA), yet Congress members would get their increases. The military is not an easy life. There are several places where people shoot at them or plant roadside bombs to explode and kill these men and women as they drive past. I am well over 62 and served many years ago. My assignments included tours in South Korea and South Vietnam. I had two tours in Europe, one over 100 miles behind the Iron Curtain. Creature comforts were not high in any of these places and many included people who would shoot at you. I still dream about driving a jeep down highway 13 from An Loc. A military life is not a life one can live for forty years or more unless your job is serving in only a support roles, truck mechanic. Of all the groups of citizens I can think of, the military is the one most deserving of your support and is the only government department our Constitution requires us to fund with our tax dollars.
    If the Department of Defense needs more money, stop the GAO from
    spending money to maintain empty buildings and having wine parties in hot
    tubs. Sell those unused buildings and stop the parties and give the money to the department of defense. Do not steal from those military persons who
    are defending your country. These benefits were promised to induce them to join and serve and to take them away after they have served is dishonest. I
    can not understand the thinking of the two houses of Congress that agreed to do this. I would like to know who recommended this idea.. Ask your congress person it they did. A retired vet.

  3. llozano says

    Let’s not put all our hope in Mr. De Blazio. He is merely riding a wave of progressive populism started from the bottom up. Just recently the mayor of San Diego Bob Philner was being touted as a progressive savior and while it wasn’t his politics that derailed him but his own personal transgressions it has created a backlash against progressivism in that city. Keep pushing de Blazio to do those progressive things that will make New York a better place for the 99% rather than just for the rich and powerful.

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