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Ron Radosh

The Triumph of the Left in New York City: How and Why De Blasio Won

November 6th, 2013 - 10:51 am

What a change for the UFT from the days of Al Shanker, who argued that he had no problem with private charter schools. He would simply organize their teachers. But Shanker would have bristled at his UFT backing a Sandinista-Castro loving mayor for high office in New York City.

Of course, as Hollander writes in her WSJ article, the problem is whether by going too far to the left de Blasio will overstep and, by moving away from the mainstream, begin to produce massive opposition. The same New York City voters who pulled the lever for him say, according to the polls, that they actually oppose many of the proposals that the new mayor favors. They favor keeping Police Comissioner Ray Kelly, whom de Blasio wants to remove; they favor charter schools; and, most importantly, they support the stop-and-frisk tactic of the police, which he ran against during his campaign. And de Blasio won with the support of the unions that opposed Mayor Bloomberg, so he will be beholden to them when they demand payback.

No wonder the far Left is cheering. In a revealing Nation magazine editorial, left-wing historian Landon Storrs writes that New York City’s ’s new mayor is “not afraid of Red Scare ghosts.” It’s the old left-wing trick: when you cite someone’s unabashed leftist program accurately, they respond by accusing you of Red-baiting. According to Storrs, de Blasio’s parents were victims of Harry S. Truman’s federal loyalty program. At least she didn’t paint them as victims of Joe McCarthy. To the far left, Truman was the first McCarthyite.

It seems that her research revealed that de Blasio’s parents, Warren Wilhelm Jr. and Maria de Blasio, were both on the far left, and were probably members of the CPUSA or some of its many front groups. As a result, they left their government jobs. Maria de Blasio worked at the Office of War Information — an outfit staffed largely by far leftists who were pro-Soviet, and which regularly excelled in painting the USSR in a friendly light. Indeed, Storrs tells us that Whittaker Chambers “charged that Maria demonstrated Communist sympathies.” Chambers, as we know, was very careful in his allegations, and if he did indeed paint her in that fashion, his observation was undoubtedly correct.

Bill de Blasio, then, was a bona fide red diaper baby. And like many of his generation, he kept his parents “progressive,” i.e., pro-Communist, politics not far from his heart.

So Storrs repeats the thesis of her book, that the Red Scare, as she calls it, was responsible for curbing “the social-democratic potential of the New Deal.” Therefore the talented leftists who worked in the FDR administration “hoped to push the New Deal to the left,” and only failed because of government repression as the Cold War began. Now, with the de Blasio victory, it is her and the left’s hope that today they can succeed where their ancestors failed. As she writes: “Conservatives exploited public fears of Soviet espionage to push noncommunist leftists out of government or toward the center.”

Her thesis is completely foolish and wrong. There was a real threat of Soviet espionage, and anti-Communist policy was a necessity and essential for our national security. Some former leftists realized how they had been played and, like Henry A. Wallace, acknowledged their naiveté and explained how they did not understand Soviet policy for too long a time. Others moved to the center because they came to realize the folly of believing in Stalin’s foreign policy, not because they were opportunists who changed only out of fear of losing jobs.

Storrs tries to draw an analogy: “Like their McCarthy-era forerunners,” she writes, “conservative pundits have been trying to scare voters by casting de Blasio as un-American.” Again, Storrs is incorrect. No one said de Blasio was un-American, only that he defended the Sandinistas without any regrets, seems to love leftist tyrannies such as Castro’s Cuba, and advocates a far-left economic policy that could lead to fiscal ruin for New York City. They are not attacking him, as she thinks, because of “his interracial marriage [that is a new one; I have not seen one iota of complaints about de Blasio being married to an African-American] and his wife’s progressive views.” It is his “progressive” views that are  being criticized — not those of his wife.

She ends with the very agenda that is the problem — de Blasio’s support of “progressive taxation, a living wage, union rights, affordable housing, public education and racial justice” –  all slogans without substance that, when one examines the details, are the real dangers for New York.

Today, The Nation proclaims in a banner editorial that, among other things, de Blasio’s mandate includes building 200,000 public housing units for the homeless and the poor. Do they not recall the tragedy and lessons of Chicago, whose high-rise housing units became prisons and centers of crime and horror stories galore, and now are standing abandoned as a symbol of left-liberalism’s great failures of the past? And, of course, they say he must end completely what they call the “notorious” stop-and-frisk policy that has reduced crimes in the neighborhoods in which the wealthy editor Katrina vanden Heuvel certainly does not live anywhere near.

The editorial ends saying that “liberal New York has gained a sympathetic partner,” with a “progressive base” in the City Council to hold him to his word. New York City may be liberal and blue, but Bill de Blasio is not a liberal. Let’s call him for what he is: a far left radical whose ancestors are the New Left and the Communists.

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