- - Wednesday, November 6, 2013


How does one explain the victory of Bill de Blasio over Joseph J. Lhota by some 500,000 votes? I have viewed all the learned studies offered up by the psephologists. I have studied the pundits’ blah. If there were chicken entrails to be read, I would have read them. Frankly, I am at a loss to explain the election save for the timeless power of boredom.

I am not speaking of Mr. Lhota’s contribution to the race. I am sure he put up a good fight. Surely his record as Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman transcended that of Mr. de Blasio as the city’s public advocate, whatever that might be. Moreover, Mr. Lhota’s record as a citizen is blameless as compared with Mr. de Blasio’s record as advocate for left-wing tyrants, for instance, and rather stupefyingly, the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and the Castros in Cuba. Also, there was something about undeclared income from rental property. He has a $1.1 million second home for which he has failed to report rental income in his annual financial-disclosure filing. Well, what was his explanation for that? Was it that all Democrats of his high station in New York City do it? Still, for an average guy — and Mr. de Blasio prides himself in being an average guy — it has a whiff of corruption to it.

My only explanation for the margin of his victory is boredom and possibly the herd mentality. The late distinguished sociologist, Robert Nisbet, would have doubtless endorsed my finding of boredom. Nisbet identified boredom as being one of the constant historic forces behind the upheavals and catastrophes of the modern world. Life has become relatively monotonous compared with days of yore, when one had to worry about famine, plague and an army of Goths, Visigoths or Huns coming across the horizon. One palliates one’s tedious days with alcohol, drugs, pornography, suicide, murder and mayhem, and if those are insufficient, one casts one’s vote for a candidate such as Mr. de Blasio.

He promises to raise taxes on people making $500,000 annually, but that will never be enough to pay for his schemes, and so we know he will raise taxes on everyone. Raise the sales tax. Raise the sin tax on booze and tobacco — oh yes, and sugary drinks. There will be taxes on private transportation, increased taxes on hotels, hit the museums and concerts and other entertainments.

The fact is that New York City, as it is now governed, is a very well-run city. It is amazingly livable, a condition that to anyone who came of age in the 1960s and the 1970s will find astounding. New York is the cultural center of America, abundant with music, the arts, museums, restaurants and even manners. Honking taxis have quieted down. Rude doormen are almost unheard of. Even the garbageman has a certain politesse. Even the pedestrians can be pleasant. The class wars of the past have abated. Then there is Wall Street, the fashion industry, the shops and department stores. New York is a model city, the model city for America’s other great cities to emulate. Yet it will be emulated no more. Mayor-elect de Blasio has plans for the Big Apple. He envisages a return to class warfare. Claiming the mantle of the populist rabble-rouser, he will set class against class, race against race, even sex against sex. When he was a young man, sozzled by idealism, he went off to Nicaragua — Sandinista Nicaragua — to work with the revolutionaries. He claims he never saw the thugs expropriate middle-class homes and other property, beat protesters and even kill unruly citizens. “My work was based on trying to create a more fair and inclusive world,” he has said. “I have an activist’s desire to improve people’s lives.” Such activists are better kept away from the levers of power. In 1991, he honeymooned in Cuba. This September, when asked about his honeymoon, he admitted the Cuban government has had “problems,” but added the health care system is very fine: “I also think it’s well-known that there’s been some good things that happened in that government.” What, Castro’s stomach disorders?

So out of boredom or perhaps the herd mentality, New Yorkers departed from a well-governed city to cast their vote for a friend of the Sandinistas and Fidel. They did it to themselves. I shall witness the folly on a monthly basis as I arrive in the Big Apple with gift parcels for my increasingly impoverished friends. They did not deserve this.

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is editor in chief of the American Spectator and the author of “The Death of Liberalism” (Thomas Nelson, 2012).

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