New York City residents felt the need for a minor modification toward the political center following the three-term reign of Mayor Bloomberg and the two terms of Mayor Guilinai. One can make the point that both Guiliani and Bloomberg led the City with an iron fist, reducing crime to unprecedented levels and maintaining a sense of balance for residents and visitors by instituting rigid policies and enforced demands for civility. Their intensity irked some and there was an insistence for change. Many New Yorkers clamored for a more sensitive leader, someone to identify with, who could show more empathy to all. It is now clear however, that New Yorkers have gotten more than they bargained for in the current mayor Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has managed to estrange a large group of his constituents with his often over the top liberal beliefs and quick displacing his failures on to others, even before the tragic slayings of the two Police Officers Liu and Ramos.
After the appalling murders of the two cops, the Mayor seems even more hypocritical. When he, perhaps thoughtlessly but very openly, sided with protestors against police calling some of the protestors only “alleged” when hard evidence existed of their defiance and aggression and then went on to tell the world that he had to train his son Dante how to behave with police officers he projected an image of his family and his life that was unreal to many. Here is a man who lives in an upscale neighborhood with many of the same day-to-day concerns everyone else has yet he is flippant toward the majority of his constituents.
I do not have biracial children but I too instructed my children how to behave with police officers just as my parents instructed me. He seems to be dismissive of the fear a teenager from an Italian family has when walking through a mostly Irish neighborhood or a Hispanic worker has when seeking employment outside of his community. I do not in any manner wish to equate the experiences of a white family with those of a family of color but the Mayor’s comments suggested that his views are at best, narrow-minded and prejudiced – not a position for the mayor of a city with eight million inhabitants and millions of visitors. A true leader can see the variety of views and work to understand them all, something Mr. de Blasio has yet to do.
Still I think Mr. de Blasio has a reasonable sense of compassion and can be responsive to all. He just needs to learn some cultural sensitivity and understand more of human nature. The Harvard psychologist Steven Pinsker, in his book The Better Angels of our Nature: Why Violence has declined, argues that brutality has diminished over the millennia because of the rise of literacy, economics and trade, and perhaps most importantly, centralized governments that follow the rule of law. We innately value these core social ties because they serve to bind us all.
The more we learn about others the more they remind us of who we are. The more we respect others socially the more we grow empathetically. The more we acknowledge the need to live with others the more we value the rights of all and the power of law to enforce those rights. These are well-documented psychological facts.
As far as we can tell human nature has not inherently changed in eons. What has changed is the need and desire to cooperate and network with others. In New York City, interactions between the many people in all their cultural hues occur every second of every day and are part of the fabric that binds the City. Among the thousands of protestors there were a small group of agitators, troublemakers, – people who are evil, cruel, and disturbed. They are however thankfully in the minority. If de Blasio is willing to focus on the larger groups and their points of view and not simply find excuses for agitators there would be less likelihood for disturbance and disarray. The mayors failure is not simply a failure of his liberalism, it is a failure caused by a sense of sanctimony, of believing his experiences are the only true definition for perceiving the world.
There is a lesson here for the entire world, liberal or conservative extremes never work. What does is the ability to find middle ground develop understanding and commerce and above all, following the rule of law.