In the recent primary, New Yorkers chose Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) pal Jamaal Bowman to replace Rep. Eliot Engel as the Democratic nominee for the 16th Congressional District. Despite the concerted efforts of powerful establishment leaders like Hillary Clinton, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), all of whom campaigned for the 16-term Engel, another far-left radical is on his way to the House.
In Kentucky, establishment-backed Democratic candidate Amy McGrath, running to compete for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Senate seat, was challenged by progressive Charles Booker. Despite McGrath raising over $40 million, almost 20 times Booker’s cash haul, the race the next day was too close to call.
Booker and Bowman reinforce the threat facing old guard incumbents from a progressive new generation. Their challenge will push Democrats even farther left, embracing even more enthusiastically calls for defunding the police, open borders, full-term abortions and an end to fossil fuels.
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will not be immune. In recent primaries, many Bernie Sanders supporters are still showing up, even though Biden has the nomination sewn up; 19 percent votedfor the Vermont socialist recently in Pennsylvania, for instance.
Biden needs to bring those progressive voters aboard. To do so, he has already knuckled under to many of their demands, calling for higher taxes, tough new restrictions on policing, a public option for health care, a $15 minimum wage and tuition-free college for middle class families.
Just as important, he has been notably silent as criminals have ripped down our national monuments and looted our cities.
If Biden were to win the presidency, the damage from Democrats’ leftward lurch will infect the entire country. But the AOC/Biden agenda will be most keenly felt in America’s cities.
The tragedy is, we’ve seen this movie before.
Many lived through the wretched decline of New York City in the 1970s, to pick one example. A toxic brew of out-of-control crime, collapsing quality of life and rising cost of living drove wealthy residents out of the city, taking their tax dollars with them. Starved for revenues, city officials had to cut bloated payrolls and reduce services, creating a downward spiral.
After the city’s fiscal collapse, voters came to their senses and elected Mayors Rudy Giuliani and Mike Bloomberg, who turned things around. What was their magic formula? Tougher policing, a business-friendly approach on regulations and taxes, and cleaning up the city.
These sensible measures worked, over time, to attract both entrepreneurs and high-income professionals and also to boost tourism, all of which increased revenues and rejuvenated the Big Apple.
Young people today don’t believe the stories they hear about New York in those dark years. They can’t believe that people put “No Radio” signs on their dashboards to stave off nightly car break-ins, or that people carried a $20 bill in their pocket, just in case they got mugged walking down the street, in broad daylight. They can’t comprehend that Central Park, even midday, was not safe.
These stories to today’s young New Yorkers sound as fanciful as life in Oz. Newcomers cannot imagine that the prosperous New York they love could ever have been so dismal; they absolutely cannot imagine it happening again.
Soon, they will not have to just imagine it. New York’s revenues are already falling, and wealthy residents are already leaving. It started well before COVID-19, though the unpopular Mayor Bill de Blasio will surely blame the city’s troubles on the coronavirus and not his own inept management. He has created a bloated and dysfunctional administration focused on a progressive wish list that has made it increasingly difficult to operate a business in New York; meanwhile, he has relaxed laws that protect the city’s residents and quality of life.
Mayor Mike Bloomberg was often castigated by the liberal press for not hiking taxes on high earners in New York City. He would point out that a very few families were responsible for the bulk of the city’s revenues; drive them out and the city would suffer.
He was correct, of course. The top 10 percent of city earners pay more than 70 percent of city income taxes.
De Blasio is driving them out. Last fall, a piece in Bloomberg noted, “New York leads all U.S. metro areas as the largest net loser with 277 people moving every day — more than double the exodus of 132 just one year ago.”
De Blasio is not the only Democratic mayor embracing harmful programs and destroying their cities. Los Angeles and Chicago are losing residents, too.
Democratic Mayor Jenny Durkan in Seattle has set a new low by allowing a lawless mob to take over an entire section of her city’s downtown, closed off to police. The spineless reaction of the progressive mayor, who initially likened the so-called CHOP nation to a block party, has endangered the residents she has sworn to protect, and already driven one billion-dollar investment firm to relocate to Phoenix. Others will follow.
Who suffers most from these cities’ high crime and dwindling revenues? It is the poor minority neighborhoods that suffer the fall-out. During the recent riots, the New York Post reports that, “Criminal gangs looted over one hundred stores” in a mostly minority neighborhood in the Bronx. “The mainly mom-and-pop operations are struggling to find the cash to make even modest repairs.” Of course.
You can’t blame young people for believing the progressive fairy tales spun by AOC and her crowd. They haven’t been taught in their schools how the economy works, and they don’t know much about history.
They don’t understand that the funds needed to build strong communities, better schools, job training programs and daycare centers have to come from their cities’ residents. Those people have to earn money to pay taxes, to make life better for everyone. They have choices; if they don’t feel safe and can’t earn a living, they will leave.This sounds simplistic, but when addressing people like those who supported AOC blocking Amazon from bringing 25,000 jobs to her community, it’s wise to take it slow.
Published on The Hill