In case you missed it, Sunday’s New York Timesreported on Bill de Blasio, this year’s Democratic nominee for mayor of New York, and his late 1980s activism in support of the leftist Sandinista revolutionaries in Nicaragua. At the time, De Blasio worked for the Quixote Center in Maryland, which describes itself as a “multi-issue, grassroots organization founded in the Catholic social justice tradition.” The Times story is a fascinating read that offers some clues to the direction de Blasio would take as mayor. His Republican opponent, Joe Lhota, has already pounced on the story; as Politico reports, he released a statement saying, “Mr. de Blasio’s class warfare strategy in New York City is directly out of the Marxist playbook. Now we know why.”
Lhota may try to portray de Blasio as a creature of the Cold War past, but the Democrat’s journey from activism in Nicaragua to politicking in Brooklyn fits the narrative of big-city mayors broadening their scope to tackle issues like climate change. The Atlantic Cities website reported on this shift on Monday, also citing Rahm Emmanuel’s move from the White House to Chicago City Hall:
Proponents of this line of thought, which is sometimes called “glocalization,” argue the nation-state has failed. “The federal government has basically sent the signal, ‘We won’t be resolving any of this for the foreseeable future,’” says Bruce Katz, the director of the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program and co-author of The Metropolitan Revolution. “And that’s a somewhat similar story around the world.” For that reason, glocalists say, we should stop expecting big, centralized governments to solve the world's problems and start looking to cities for innovative solutions.
Whether the voters of these cities support “glocalization” may not become clear until Emmanuel (and de Blasio, assuming he wins) run for re-election.
• Boston, meanwhile, may be content to be the control city in this experiment, with a mayor trying to replicate Tom Menino’s success as an “urban mechanic” focused on streetlights and potholes. Tuesday’s mayoral primary (see previous post) advanced two candidates to a run-off in November. The Boston Globe reports that state Representative Martin Walsh and City Councilor John Connolly will compete to succeed Menino, first elected in 1993. Neither cracked 20 percent of the vote in the 12-candidate primary.
• More election winners were announced Sunday night at the Emmy Awards, though the television academy does not embarrass nominees by divulging how many votes were won by each candidate. It would be indiscreet to reveal that Modern Family (best comedy series for the fourth consecutive year) or Jeff Daniels (best lead actor in a drama series for HBO’s The Newsroom) defeated five other nominees with, say, a mere 20 percent of the vote. But the anonymous Film Crit Hulk (yes, he writes in all caps) explains that arts and entertainment awards work on the same principles as crowded, low-turnout elections:
…THE BIGGEST BLOC OF EMMY VOTERS BY FAR ARE PEOPLE WORKING FOR SPECIFIC NETWORKS (AND PLEASE KEEP IN MIND YOU HAVE TO PAY TO BE IN THE ACADEMY AND THE GREAT THING IS THAT NETWORKS WILL OFTEN PAY YOUR FEE). THE NEXT BIGGEST GROUP OF PEOPLE WOULD BE THOSE WHO WORK FOR SPECIFIC SHOWS. AND GUESS WHAT IS TRUE FOR BOTH OF THESE BLOCS OF PEOPLE?
YOU GET TO VOTE FOR YOUR OWN SHOWS.
YUP. THAT'S RIGHT. NO BIAS THERE AT ALL, BUT THERE'S A DETAIL WHICH IS MORE PROBLEMATIC: THE NETWORKS / SHOWS WITH THE BIGGEST STAFFS / CREWS, ETC. HAVE A HUGE, HUGE ADVANTAGE WHEN IT COMES TO EMMY VOTING. THEY SIMPLY HAVE THE MOST PEOPLE TO VOTE FOR THEIR STUFF.
So well-staffed HBO, and big-cast shows like Modern Family, are like labor unions in municipal elections: They have a big advantage when the opposition is splintered among several candidates.
Photo of Bill de Blasio from his campaign site.