New Yorkers may ditch progressivism to save their city: Will the nation follow?

New Yorkers may ditch progressivism to save their city: Will the nation follow?
© Getty

New Yorkers could be about to do something radical. They may kick progressivism to the curb, where it belongs. With luck, other cities will soon follow.

New York voters will likely choose Eric Adams to be the Democratic nominee for mayor. Should Adams, Brooklyn Borough president and a former cop, win his party’s nomination in the June 22 primary vote, he is almost certain to be elected mayor this November.

Adams’ win would be a victory for common sense and a serious repudiation of current Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioOn The Money: Yellen to Congress: Raise the debt ceiling or risk 'irreparable harm' | Frustration builds as infrastructure talks drag De Blasio urges NYC businesses to require coronavirus vaccines Plummeting test scores are a symptom; remote instruction is the disease MORE’s woke Leftism. New York, often in the vanguard of American politics, could be a canary in the coal mine for overreaching progressives — not only in the Big Apple but across the country.

ADVERTISEMENT

Adams has emerged in a crowded field as virtually the only candidate talking about an issue critical to New Yorkers — safety. A poll conducted in early April showed voters’ number one issue to be the coronavirus, closely followed by “crime or violence.” As COVID-19 recedes, law and order will rank number one, and it should.

In the most recent week, murders were triple last year’s level, while robberies were up 50 percent and assaults up 19 percent. Overall, major crimes were up 22 percent. Nearly every day brings horror stories of another person slashed in some gang ritual or pushed onto the subway tracks. The New York Times recently reported, “170 people [were] shot over the last four full weeks, according to police data. The last time so many people were shot over the same four-week period in New York City was 1997.”

The causes for the crime surge include bail “reform” laws that put too many criminals back on the street, sometimes within hours of being arrested. Also, the number of gun seizures and arrests for illegal gun possessions has plummeted. Toss in Mayor Bill de Blasio ditching the 600-officer plainclothes police unit that targeted violent crime, his reversal of “broken windows” policing, deciding that public urination, drinking in public and riding between subway cars are no longer arrestable offenses, and you have a recipe for disaster.

All of these policies were adopted in the name of “racial justice,” since minorities have historically been disproportionately arrested for petty crimes. But in New York, as elsewhere, it is minority neighborhoods that have been worst hit by spiraling violence and the stand-down of law enforcement. That’s why numerous polls have shown Black voters don’t want less policing; it is mainly white woke liberals who are pushing to “defund the police.” 

Adams gets it. “We must go after the gangs and over-proliferation of guns in the city,” he said in a recent interview with Bloomberg Television. “If we don’t, we are not going to have the economic recovery, tourism, business travelers or have our offices back and running.”  

ADVERTISEMENT

Adams also acknowledges that the city needs to attract and keep top earners. Yes, you heard that right. A Democrat talks sense about the importance of the people paying the bulk of the city’s income taxes.

He said in a radio interview a few weeks ago: “I don’t join the chorus that tells the 65,000 New Yorkers that are paying 51 percent of our income tax – and [are] only 2 percent of the income tax filers – I don’t join the chorus that states, ‘So what if they leave?'” 

That’s a major shift from clueless de Blasio, who boasted last summer, “We do not make decisions based on the wealthy few…That’s not how it works around here anymore.” Well-heeled New Yorkers got the message, decamping to Palm Beach in droves.

Adams has the guts to say what everyone knows: Successful people “are fleeing because the city has become too dirty, too unsafe, and there’s not an appreciation for the commitment to the city.” He is right; the wealthy have options.

Adams’ remarks should not be controversial, but, thanks to the leftward lurch of his party, they are. Crime is rampant in Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis and other places where the left is in charge; in Democrat-controlled cities and states, people are moving out.

Just how much Adams is rattling the Left can be read from a front-page, above-the-fold article published recently by the New York Times. The story hinted that Adams has improperly worked to help out campaign donors, though the author was quick to note that the former cop has never been accused of wrongdoing.

Adams has emerged as the front-runner, beating out the quixotic Andrew YangAndrew YangPoll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary Kings launch voting rights effort honoring John Lewis Eric Adams to meet with Biden on curbing gun violence MORE, who entered the race with great name recognition but little else.

New Yorkers know their city is in trouble. Not only did COVID-19 wreak havoc, infecting millions and sending tens of thousands of people fleeing to the suburbs, the damage may linger thanks to the success of remote working. Though Wall Street firms like JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs are pushing their people to come back to their offices, many businesses continue to allow their employees to work from home. Given ongoing concerns about people crowding into elevators and lawlessness in the subways, many are reluctant to return.

To be sure, Adams kowtows excessively to the unions and, in a bow to the left, has called for a two-year “recovery share” tax on those making over $5 million per year. He also exhibits an unrealistic affection for wind energy. But at least he talks about cutting payrolls and trimming expenses, and he has embraced charter schools in the past, which should be a prerequisite for leading New York.

New York makes up 8 percent of the country’s GDP; it is important. If voters discard failed progressive policies by selecting Eric Adams as mayor, it will send a strong message to the left everywhere. Aspiring to make New York safe and prosperous again should not set him apart, but it does.

Liz Peek is a former partner of major bracket Wall Street firm Wertheim & Company. Follow her on Twitter @lizpeek