That doesn't begin to describe what he's signed up for. Not only is de Blasio moving from the low-profile, low-power post of public advocate—a kind of civic watchdog unique to New York and invisible to many of its citizens—to the enormous challenge of managing a $70 billion budget and occupying the most intimately scrutinized elected position in America. He has to do all that with the hopes of the progressive movement on his back.
That may sound naïve or hyperbolic, but that's exactly what some people said about de Blasio's “tale of two cities” critique and they were wrong on the politics and on the policy.
Sure, if you're so inclined, you can look at de Blasio's resume, with his stint at the side of the “New Democrat” Clintons and his nimble traipse through the politics of real-estate development, and conclude that the mayor-elect is more shrewd strategist than true believer. But it doesn't matter. Whether in his heart he's Chance the Gardener or John Doe or the Real Deal, people want him to be the Real Deal, so that's what he'll be expected to be.
And if you detect New York chauvinism at work here, tell me, what progressive has a higher profile or a bigger mandate to reverse the erosion of American working-class living standards than the guy who'll be mayor of a city with more poor residents than Philadelphia has people?
The scope of that potential and the size of the challenge confronting de Blasio are why The Nation and City Limits are teaming up to produce this blog on the transition now underway and the first 100 days of the mayoral term that begins January 1.
Read the rest of our first post here