In the 1940s, the New York City subways and buses were represented — as they still are now — by the Transport Workers Union, whose chief at the time was “Red” Mike Quill. A fiery Communist who left the Party in 1948 but remained firmly on the political Left, Red was famous for his quip: “I’d rather be called a Red by the rats than a rat by the Reds.”
I’m certain that New York City’s new mayor, Bill de Blasio, wishes Quill were still alive. He would then have a major ally to work with when the time came for the MTA to negotiate a new union contract with the city. Judging from his inauguration, a parody of a left-wing gala dreamed up at the U.S. desk of the Castro brothers’ Foreign Ministry, de Blasio has taken his big win as a mandate to create social-democracy in one city.
De Blasio has pledged to make his term as mayor the time for implementation of a war against inequality. My colleague Roger L. Simon thinks he and those with him do not believe a word of what they say, that it is all “high comedy” and they “can’t be serious.” I disagree. The rhetoric may be old-fashioned and seem corny, but de Blasio is a certified red diaper baby, he was born and bred in an ideological cocoon of Marxism, and later, by his own word, was inspired by the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and Castro in Cuba.
He chose whom to appoint and who would speak at his inauguration, and if the talk was inflammatory and ideological, it was de Blasio’s intention. He would take the high road and let the words of his apparatchiks and celebrities like Harry Belafonte talk the talk for the true believers who would provide the inspiration. As Slate writer Matt Yglesias quipped on Twitter as he watched the speeches: “Daring of de Blasio to appear on stage with the embalmed corpses of Lenin, Mao, and Ho Chi Minh at his inauguration.”