by Bruce Abramson and Jeff Ballabon
Originally published by The Jewish Press
Having watched three debates featuring Donald Trump at center stage, two things have become clear. The first is that Trump is the right man for the job. The second is that the job is not President of the United States. It is Mayor of New York City.
The current Mayor, Bill de Blasio, is a fine example of NYC politics as usual. For those unfamiliar with the City’s Democratic machinery, it’s the worst of the national party on steroids. New York’s Democratic power structure is a mass of corrupt grievance groups intent upon depicting the city’s hardworking, entrepreneurial, ethnically integrated people as victims of some brutal racist, homophobic patriarchy intent upon keeping them down. That patriarchy, of course, is centered on Wall Street, paradoxically also the home of the tax base that makes New York’s generous welfare state possible. Bill de Blasio, who began his political career by traveling to Nicaragua to support the (virulently anti-Semitic) Sandinista, then returned home to support Mayor David Dinkins (remembered for presiding over a pogrom), is an excellent representative of the city’s Democratic machine.
In 2013, de Blasio surged from behind to defeat the Black, Asian, LGBT, and exhibitionist candidates in the comparative victimology contest known as the Democratic Mayoral Primary. His winning strategy involved a flurry of last minute ads reminding people that, as the head of a biracial household, he often worries about his black son. He then ran a brilliant general election campaign complaining that New York’s quality of life had improved far too radically over the past few decades. He outlined plans to make the streets less safe, increase vagrancy, and reduce educational options available to New York’s poor. That platform earned him 73% of the vote.
How did a candidate with such an obviously unappealing platform manage such a landslide? Because no matter how bad the Democratic candidate might be, New Yorkers hate Republicans. New Yorkers simply will not vote for the Republican candidate, no matter how odious the Democrat—rendering the primary competition among dueling progressives the city’s true contest.
Now, at this point in the discussion, any astute observer would note that de Blasio was the first Democrat elected Mayor since Dinkins left office twenty years earlier. Doesn’t that suggest at least some receptivity to Republican candidates?
Not really. The intervening five elections went twice for Rudy Giuliani and three times for Mike Bloomberg. What did these candidates have in common? Name recognition. Even celebrity. Granted, Giuliani was a lifelong Republican while Bloomberg was (briefly and barely) an opportunistic one. But both candidates brought their own brands to the table—brands that were so marketable in New York that they overwhelmed the baggage of Republican affiliation. In New York City, only a self-branded candidate can defeat the Democratic machine (though showing up at a particularly dark moment following three decades of decline also can’t hurt).
Which brings us back to Trump.
Love him or hate him, there’s no denying the obvious. First, “Trump” is one of the most valuable and powerful personal brands in America today. Second, though we may loan him out to places like Atlantic City or Las Vegas, Donald Trump is New York. Third, we need him. Most observers have already conceded that increased crime and reduced standards of living notwithstanding, de Blasio is likely to coast to reelection in 2017. Unless, that is, some disruptive force comes along to alter the equation. Is there a greater potential disruptor on the horizon than The Donald?
His foray into Presidential politics has been remarkable. From the day that his campaign launched, he surged to the top of a crowded pack. Defying all expectations, he has remained there for months. Can he win the nomination? Can he win the election? The smart money says no—but then the smart money said that he couldn’t get as far as he’s gotten—so how smart is it, really?
Still, if Donald Trump truly seeks to make the leap from business and entertainment into public service, we here in the public have a right to ask him for a bit of self-sacrifice. So here it is:
Mr. Trump, show the world what a class act looks like. Leave Presidential politics gracefully, at the very top of your game. Who better to lead the commercial capital of the world than the consummate dealmaker? Who better to stand against the corrupt insiders of the Democratic grievance machine than New York’s own consummate insider? Who better to capture the blustering pride for which New York is famous? Who better to symbolize New York? And who better to rebrand a local Republican Party that proved incapable of rebranding itself even while saving the city?
Mr. Trump, forget the White House. Come home! We want to buy what you’ve got to sell. New York needs its native son.
Trump in ’17. You heard it here first.