The only way to fix what’s wrong with New York City is to let the government have complete control, according to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The words might have been spoken more than a year ago, but considering that the mayor just won re-election easily to lead the nation’s largest city, and is widely considered to be a likely part of the Democratic field when the presidential primary contest kicks off for the 2020 election, his positions are still worth publicizing — especially when it comes to his view of federal power.
During the New York Magazine interview, he was asked to give a progress report on his battle against housing inequality.
“What’s been hardest is the way our legal system is structured to favor private property. I think people all over this city, of every background, would like to have the city government be able to determine which building goes where, how high it will be, who gets to live in it, what the rent will be,” he said.
“I think there’s a socialistic impulse, which I hear every day, in every kind of community, that they would like things to be planned in accordance to their needs. And I would, too,” he said.
But private interests prevail, he said.
“Unfortunately, what stands in the way of that is hundreds of years of history that have elevated property rights and wealth to the point that that’s the reality that calls the tune on a lot of development,” he said.
De Blasio said that space going to top dollar — rents most people cannot afford — irks New Yorkers.
“Look, if I had my druthers, the city government would determine every single plot of land, how development would proceed. And there would be very stringent requirements around income levels and rents. That’s a world I’d love to see, and I think what we have, in this city at least, are people who would love to have the New Deal back, on one level. They’d love to have a very, very powerful government, including a federal government, involved in directly addressing their day-to-day reality,” he said.
When asked about breaking down racial barriers, de Blasio said the country as a whole is to blame.
“If you want to talk about breaking down segregation, all of us have to honestly acknowledge it’s based in 400 years of American history, and it’s based in the way economics and race interact. And that goes to jobs and housing before you ever get to schools. The best places to address it are with jobs and housing,” he said.
As talk turned to the future of the Democratic Party, de Blasio said the 2016 Democratic platform should be the guide to the future.
“The synergy of Hillary (Clinton) and Bernie (Sanders) got to the platform I had always dreamed of. That 2016 platform was extraordinary. But sadly, up and down the line (in) the Democratic Party, people didn’t run on it.
Democrats, he said, have an “identity crisis.”
“The Democratic Party is supposed to be the modern-day version of the party of Roosevelt. We are supposed to be the party of working people. We are supposed to be the party that’s willing to challenge the wealthy and the powerful. I believe we will be that party. That party, that I once knew, won votes young, old, white, black, North, South, because it was a populist, progressive party and it focused on economic issues. And that is the way forward,” he said.
Considering the leftward tilt of the Democratic Party in the 2018 midterms, de Blasio’s words from 2017 are still relevant today.
They could be even more important when the 2020 election heats up.
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