It was cold and chilly out there for former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was forced to sit and listen to left-wing speeches and speakers skewing his legacy during the inauguration ceremony of his successor – mayor Bill de Blasio.
But it was also the nature of the speeches and the overall mood that revealed a new era for New York, and maybe a breath of fresh air for embattled Democrats nationwide. Mr. de Blasio and the speakers, all vowed to remain on the left, seeding hope for national Democrats who can now see Mayor de Blasio as their unabashing liberal leader.
Civil rights activist Harry Belafonte, who during the campaign compared the Koch brothers to KKK, reflected on the racial tensions and injustices that had been cemented by the City’s government policies.
“New York, alarmingly, plays a tragic role in the fact that our nation has the largest prison population in the world. Much of that problem stems from issues of race perpetuated by the depth of human indifference to poverty. Changing the stop-and-frisk law is only the tip of the iceberg in fixing our deeply Dickensian justice system,” he argued.
”Bill de Blasio gives New York another opportunity to open the door of possibilities,” he said of the new mayor. “We New Yorkers must not let him fail.”
Delivering one of the invocations, Rev. Fred Lucas Jr. described New York City as a “plantation.”
“On this first day of January–the anniversary of the first Emancipation Proclamation–sound forth the trumpets of heaven proclaiming a new Emancipation Proclamation in New York City,” he invoked. “Free us from the shackles of partisan politics, political correctness, and personal egos and agendas. End the civil wars and usher in a new Reconstruction Era that builds upon the many successes and achievements of yesterday while proclaiming the beginning of a new beginning.”
“Let the plantation called New York City be the city of God, a city set upon the hill. A light shining in the darkness,” Rev. Lucas prayed.
The remarks drew great criticism and went viral within minutes. Rev. Lucas was later thanked by name by Mayor de Blasio during his inaugural speech.
Public Advocate Tish James wasted no time in her inaugural speech going after former Mayor Bloomberg’s policies. Ms. James criticized the NYPD surveillance of Muslims, stop and frisk and income inequality. Dasani Coates, the subject of a startled NY Times piece on homeless children in Bloomberg’s New York, held the bible for James and was declared her “new BFF.”
Mayor de Blasio graciously thanked Mayor Bloomberg before declaring the beginning of a new progressive approach to restructure New York City’s government.
“Let me be clear. When I said we would take dead aim at the ‘Tale of Two Cities,’ I meant it. And we will do it,” he said.
The mayor thanked President Clinton, who “over 20 years ago, when a conservative philosophy seemed dominant… broke through – and told us to still believe in a place called Hope.”
He also seized the opportunity to bash the national Republicans who don’t share his “progressive vision.”
“Some on the far right continue to preach the virtue of trickle-down economics. They believe that the way to move forward is to give more to the most fortunate, and that somehow the benefits will work their way down to everyone else. They sell their approach as the path of “rugged individualism. But Fiorello La Guardia — the man I consider to be the greatest Mayor this city has ever known — put it best. He said: “I, too, admire the ‘rugged individual,’ but no ‘rugged individual’ can survive in the midst of collective starvation,” Mr. de Blasio said.
“As the Clintons looked on, the inauguration offered plenty of reminders of just how much more liberal the Democratic Party’s base has become since the era of Clinton centrism in the 1990s,” Politico’s Maggie Haberman wrote.
(Jacob Kornbluh – YWN)