Does New York City have an attitude problem?
The answer is quite simple. Yes. The New York elite represent a corrupt and dysfunctional political culture. The New York “attitude” is so well recognized that it is celebrated on tee-shirts, coffee mugs and is even the theme of a song.
The mystery to me is why such mostly nice people would tolerate such governance. It reminds me of China’s one-party authoritarianism. However, the people of China have little to no ability to change their authoritarian government. New Yorkers still have an ability to elect better public officials, but they seem to fall in line like sheep to the slaughter.
I learned during my career in Chicago that authoritarianism can take hold even within a democratic society with significant personal freedoms. New York, like Chicago, has long been a one-party town. That means the Democratic Party has more control over policies, programs and proposals than the official government. (That sounds a lot like China … eh?)
In fact, the first time I went to China on business, I pondered how I could maneuver in a country that most described as “inscrutable.” I was told that you cannot make headway quickly because it takes years to develop the necessary relationships; it takes time to learn how the Chinese do business.
In pondering the situation, I realized that China operates a lot like our one-party cities – New York, Detroit, Chicago, etc. They all have a “boss” – often referring to him by that title. They have influential bureaucrats, access is obtained by dealing with connected insiders, the law is no barrier to getting something done and, most importantly, the single political party reigns supreme. In China, you go to the general secretary of the Communist Party to get decisions and results. In our big one-party cities, you go to the ward committeeman or borough executive.
New York City poses a unique problem for America because of its unique influence over entertainment, finance and media. The United Nations gives it a special influence in international diplomacy. Consequently, New York imposes its narrow culture on the nation as a whole. The New York progressive culture is not only NOT the culture of greater America, but it is, in many ways, the antithesis of traditional American values – the difference between common man democracy and elitist privilege.
We see the undue influence of the New York culture every day. New York media dominates over the local press. If you follow cable news – especially CNN and MSNBC – you will see a flood of New York personalities. Virtually every talking head, pundit, analyst and contributor is an inbred New Yorker. When you see contributing panelists from other media outlets, they mostly come from the New York Times, Atlantic Magazine, The New Yorker, etc. etc. etc. – staffed to the rafters with folks indigenous to Manhattan who are virtually all progressive Democrats.
Democrats in Congress are represented by a particularly pugnacious pair of strident partisans — New Yorker Senator Chuck Schumer and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler – not to mention such radicals as Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
New Yorkers take pride in the ability to cope with life in the Big Apple. They face the most horrendous traffic gridlock. The close-encounters-of-the-fender-kind is very similar to the driving culture in Beijing – unpleasant, frustrating and time-delaying at its best.
Manhattan’s curbside-only garbage pick up means that you are generally walking among three- to five-foot piles of plastic trash bags. So much architecture is falling off buildings that the busiest sidewalks are covered by construction canopies. Understandably, people seem to be a bit angrier and less hospitable than other parts of the nation.
While Democrats complain about the void between the poor and the super-rich – those one-percenters – New York City has one of the greatest chasms between the Park Avenue elite and the folks in the impoverished and Covid-19 hard-hit neighborhood of … you cannot make this stuff up … Corona.
It has often been said that unless you have a LOT of money, New York City is not a fun place to live or even visit. That is hard to dispute.
During his presidential bid, Texas Senator Ted Cruz claimed that his opponent, Donald Trump, would be bad for America because he personified “New York values.” He subsequently offered up a mea culpa to the people of New York, but most Americans knew what Cruz meant.
The intelligentsia of New York City are a particularly arrogant bunch – contemptuous of those who do not live or work on Manhattan Island. Even folks who voted for Trump – like me – are not fond of the President’s thuggish and pugnacious New York personality. Cruz was not entirely wrong.
The culture and values of New York seem to run cross-grain from those of fly-over America. They admittedly do not understand us – and they do not even like us very much. In fact, former New York Senator Hillary Clinton referred to us as a “basket of deplorables,” if you recall.
Like a virus in epidemic, News York’s authoritarian progressivism has had localized outbreaks in places like Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Hollywood – which forms the bicoastal base of left-wing authoritarianism.
We can only long for the day when we can turn on the news and find a lot less New York culture and a lot more mid-America values reflected on the screen. Hopefully, before it is too late.
So, there ‘tis.