Ron Radosh

The Dangers of a De Blasio Victory in New York City's Mayoral Race

As the mayoral campaign of Bill de Blasio moves on, the revelation that the likely victor was a Sandinista supporter as a young man in the 1980s has begun to be noticed. It made de Blasio actually have to respond to his Republican opponent, Joe Lhota, who had condemned him as a “Marxist.” But instead of saying something to the effect that he was young, idealistic, and perhaps wrong about Nicaragua, he openly defended his positions.

In an interview with Capital, a Manhattan-based publication, de Blasio argued that U.S. policies in Central America in the ’80s “were wrong,” and that he was only working with Jesuits and Catholics, with much of the work “done by nuns.” Well, there are nuns and then there are nuns. And de Blasio, by his own account, thinks he was on the right side, since those supported by the U.S. in the Reagan and Bush 41 years were regimes “very unfair to their own people.”

In standing firm in defense of his old positions, de Blasio has revealed how little he has learned.  The truth is that the Catholics he supported in Nicaragua — including the nuns — were part of the regime-created “Popular Church,” an attempt to fuse Catholicism with Marxism in support of the Sandinista Front (FSLN), and were advocates of “liberation theology,” popular among the Catholic left in the region in those years. The regular Church, as in Poland, condemned the Sandinistas and was a strong opponent of the drift to totalitarianism.

Today, in City Journal, my old friend Sol Stern has perhaps the single best article on what a de Blasio victory might mean for New York City, and for the nation.  As Stern writes, “Bill de Blasio was outed by the New York Times and then proudly stood his ground, politically and ideologically”:

De Blasio’s untroubled response to the Times’s revelations speaks volumes about New York’s rapidly changing political culture. It’s not that the next mayor will try to establish socialism or bring Sandinista ideas about the class struggle to government agencies. But de Blasio’s ascendency, perhaps even more than Obama’s, marks another step in the evolution of the Democratic party and big-city liberalism toward a twenty-first-century version of the old Popular Front. De Blasio’s City Hall will be open for business to each element of a self-styled “progressive” coalition of “inclusion.” No group or individual will be deemed too far to the left as long as they jump on the de Blasio bandwagon. Lining up to receive their fair share of the spoils will be the old Acorn organization, now renamed New York Communities for Change; the far-left Working Families Party; the United Federation of Teachers and other municipal unions; the radical Service Employees International Union, including the former Communist-led health-care workers’ union Local 1199; the civil liberties and homeless lobbies; and, of course, the onetime racial arsonist Al Sharpton, now posing as a wise elder and political power broker. To varying degrees, each will have a place at the municipal trough. Meanwhile, at the other end of City Hall—thanks to the successful efforts of the Working Families Party in many local races this year—the newly elected city council will tilt further left and will dole out even more cash to radical and activist community groups.”

Given that New York City is the financial center of our country, and hence important nationally, if the dark scenario laid out by Stern as a possible result of a de Blasio victory comes true, it bodes ill for our country as a whole. It is as important a development on the Left as was Scott Walker’s victory over the Left in Wisconsin.

To confirm how much the national Left is moving to support the de Blasio campaign, look no further than this article at Huffington Post by the New Left’s main 1960s leader and author of the Port Huron Statement that announced SDS to the nation, Tom Hayden. He likes de Blasio for one reason. His candidacy, Hayden writes, “should hugely excite the progressive base in New York politics after a long period of Republican rule. De Blasio did not leave his radical youth behind either; in the present day, he is a leading critic of stop-and-frisk and the massive economic inequalities dramatized by Occupy Wall Street.”

Hayden clearly sees de Blasio as a kindred spirit, exemplified by Hayden’s own turn to Democratic Party politics in California, where, for a time, he won a seat on the state Senate and seemed to be grooming himself for a national political role. Hayden hopes that his candidacy will mean the “awakening of a Left which often derides electoral politics.” His victory, he predicts, will “put progressive politics [read Marxist or socialist instead of progressive] on the central stage of national media coverage and debate,” and will help others like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, the avowed socialist senator from Vermont.

Oh, yes, and he hopes it will give The Nation magazine “much more mainstream impact in the political culture.” I would add that the magazine already has far too much, as its editor Katrina vanden Heuvel is a regular on the major TV networks, and often a position it takes editorially appears soon after in the editorial pages of the New York Times.

Hayden’s only regret is that the action-oriented anarchists would engage in working for de Blasio and not merely be content with chanting, wearing those horrendous masks, and smashing windows. Hayden, of course, forgets how many of them are undoubtedly inspired by Hayden’s own advocacy of such a course during the infamous Chicago Democratic Convention of 1968, when he led the riots and regularly incited the crowd to act and not just march.

So Hayden ends with what he hopes will be the end result of a de Blasio victory: “A new New Left is rising.”

Whether you call it the new Popular Front uniting unabashed Marxists, revolutionary activists, and liberal Democrats, as Stern does, or a “new New Left,” as Hayden does, it threatens the well-being of our entire country. We may not live in New York City, but we cannot ignore what is happening there. Joe Lhota is not running an inspiring campaign so far, and he has made mistakes. The odds against him are high, and he is likely to lose.  However, he deserves whatever support conservatives outside New York City can give him.