NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, May 16th, 2019

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio enters the crowded 2020 Democratic presidential field

New York City May­or Bill de Bla­sio just released a video declar­ing his inten­tion to wrest con­trol of the White House away from Don­ald Trump.

Mayor Bill de Blasio

May­or Bill de Bla­sio has announced his run for the White House (Pho­to: Kevin Case, repro­duced under a Cre­ative Com­mons license)

Look­ing at the video, it is easy to see why the may­or thinks he has a good shot at the Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­na­tion.

In the video, de Bla­sio high­lights his most pop­u­lar poli­cies (uni­ver­sal pre-kinder­garten for New York­ers and intro­duc­ing a $15 min­i­mum wage) and points out that his admin­is­tra­tion has tan­gled with Trump and beat­en him.

As he puts it: “I’ve beat­en him before and I’ll do it again.”

In a Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty that has moved to the left in response to Trump’s poli­cies, hav­ing a record of pro­gres­sive pol­i­cy­mak­ing and (even more impor­tant­ly) beat­ing the White House in court over Trump’s key issue – immi­gra­tion – might seem like a recipe for attract­ing droves of moti­vat­ed vot­ers.

But there are already dozens of oth­er Democ­rats — gov­er­nors, for­mer gov­er­nors, Unit­ed States Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, Unit­ed States Sen­a­tors, a for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent — seek­ing the party’s 2020 pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion.

Although the may­or has imple­ment­ed some poli­cies that are pop­u­lar in New York City, his over­all record as a leader is mixed. Despite cam­paign­ing on the issue of home­less­ness, the num­ber of home­less peo­ple in New York has increased since he became may­or. Mean­while, New York City’s hous­ing depart­ment was so incom­pe­tent that the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment had to take over much of it.

A homeless teen in New York

De Blasio’s admin­is­tra­tion has failed to keep cam­paign promis­es to help the home­less in New York City (Pho­to: Robert Sci­fo, repro­duced under a Cre­ative Com­mons license)

Many New York­ers see the may­or as uncon­nect­ed and dis­in­ter­est­ed in the needs of their city, and his actions often rein­force that per­cep­tion.

He fre­quent­ly arrives late to impor­tant events, engages in pet­ty per­son­al vendet­tas with the state gov­er­nor and the media, and has left four­teen exec­u­tive-lev­el posi­tions in the city bureau­cra­cy unfilled for over a year.

He is so unpop­u­lar that Observ­er (a New York-based news site) head­line spec­u­lat­ed that his pres­i­den­tial run was mere­ly an excuse to get away from his con­stituents. Three quar­ters of New York­ers told a poll­ster that they didn’t want de Bla­sio to run. When MSNBC asked sub­way com­muters about his cam­paign launch, answers includ­ed, “he needs help, seri­ous­ly,” and “are you kid­ding?”

Out­side his city, de Blasio’s cause is not far­ing much bet­ter. In New York State, the May­or came dead last in a poll of Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­dates.

He is also get­ting nowhere in the cru­cial ear­ly states of Iowa and New Hamp­shire. He cur­rent­ly polls between 0% and 1% among Democ­rats nation­al­ly. He would need the stars to align in his favor to even con­tend for the nom­i­na­tion.

How­ev­er, he is far from the only can­di­date that can be said about.

A recent poll by Morn­ing Con­sult showed that there are four­teen can­di­dates cur­rent­ly run­ning who polled at 1% or less among Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­ers, and that poll didn’t include all the can­di­dates cur­rent­ly run­ning!

The pri­ma­ry start­ed out as the most diverse field of can­di­dates ever, but since the start of Feb­ru­ary the field has almost dou­bled in size, and it’s not so diverse any­more. Two of the can­di­dates – Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden – are the cur­rent fron­trun­ners and have plen­ty of name recog­ni­tion. How­ev­er, most of the new entries are described by Vox as an “epi­dem­ic of ran­dom white men,” none of whom have made sig­nif­i­cant inroads in polling.

The recent influx of straight white guys into the Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry has exposed a seri­ous prob­lem in Amer­i­can pol­i­tics and with our mass media in par­tic­u­lar. While can­di­dates of col­or, women and America’s first open­ly gay per­son to run for the pres­i­den­cy have been strug­gling for months to cast them­selves as legit­i­mate, white men exhib­it “a cer­tain type of priv­i­lege in… think­ing they can just drop into the race at the last minute,” to quote FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Sil­ver.

This priv­i­lege has been proven by stud­ies – men are far less cau­tious about run­ning for office than women, while women weigh the risks more and wait until they have more expe­ri­ence.

Bill de Bla­sio might be the epit­o­me of this phe­nom­e­non. He believes he has a shot at the nom­i­na­tion when there is no evi­dence to sug­gest he can mount a cred­i­ble can­di­da­cy in a crowd­ed field, and he believes he can run the entire coun­try when many peo­ple think he could be doing a much bet­ter job run­ning New York City.

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