A New York magazine article headline declares, “De Blasio’s Proposal to Destroy Pedestrian Times Square Is the Opposite of Progressive.”
That’s Bill de Blasio, the current mayor of New York City, who was elected in 2013 after running unabashedly as the progressive, socially democratic candidate. I find it interesting that people are surprised by the mayor’s illiberal stands on many (though not all) of the major issues he has faced in his short time in office.
One of the latest is his proposal to return cars to Times Square Plaza, in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, by razing the outdoor space created by the administration of his Republican predecessor, Michael Bloomberg. You see, Mayor Bill says he doesn’t like the goings-on there, which lately include women soliciting topless on the street and people dressed as Elmo hustling tourists. His solution? We can’t control all the hucksterism, so let’s shut the whole thing down!
Justin Davidson, the author of that New York magazine article, says it well:
If de Blasio really believes that the best way to deal with street performers in Times Square is to tear up the pedestrian plaza, may I suggest he try reducing homelessness by eradicating doorways and subway grates?
My point goes beyond Times Square Plaza, of course, although that controversy is instructive, as are others (such as his recent attempt to rein in Uber).
The approach the mayor takes in this and similar matters is characteristic of any political ideology that views unrestrained political power as a legitimate tool of social change. That includes neoconservatism and other modern political ideologies, including progressivism.