New York’s Failed Political Class Puzzles Over Why Voters Seem To Prefer Outsider Andrew Yang
The United Federation of Teachers (UFT), the public sector union that has helped keep my daughters out of classrooms for most of the 2020–21 school year, issued its long-awaited endorsement for New York mayor on Monday: NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer.
“Educational policy is crucial, but we need a mayor who understands how the city works,” the UFT explained in a tweet. To which a beleaguered resident of Gotham might counter: Or maybe we need a mayor who understands that the city doesn’t.
The New York Times‘ news pages described the endorsement as “a much-needed boost” to Stringer’s campaign, which seems oddly inflationary given the UFT’s desultory record in picking Democratic primary winners. Odder still is the open hostility that many in the media are directing toward the front-runner in this race, who also happens to be the only candidate bluntly criticizing the teachers union for its role in shuttering schools: former 2020 presidential aspirant Andrew Yang.
“Yang’s prominence, The New Republic‘s Alex Pareene confessed last week, “depresses me.” Why? Because it’s embarrassing for a polity that takes nuts-and-bolts governance so seriously to swoon over a celebrity candidate.
“As mayor, Yang would have to figure out how to get lead paint and mold out of the city’s public housing system, how to design safer streets, how to make the buses run more efficiently, how to collect garbage, how to assign children to public schools and operate them fairly, how to manage the paramilitary known as the NYPD, and what to do with the atrocity known as Rikers Island,” Pareene wrote wearily. “And, for all the talk of his ideas, he has not shown that he has thought very much about any of those parts of the job.”
MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, too, decried Yang’s lack of relevant experience.
“We’ve got, like, the most important mayor’s race in New York City probably in the last 50 years, maybe 100 years, I don’t know….[And] I mean, you and I could do a better job running New York City than Andrew Yang,” the Morning Joe host told a nodding Donny Deutsch Monday. “You want that mayor to be competent, you want them to know what they’re actually doing….It’s one thing running for president and putting some quirky ideas out there and getting some media attention, but man, when you’re running New York City, again, I’m talking competence.”
I can think of other c-words when clanging along the city’s busted streets, waiting for trains that never come because we’re still wiping down surfaces to prevent COVID, or trying to sort through the latest turf squabble between the Democratic mayor and the Democratic governor over a pandemic that hit the five boroughs harder than anywhere else in the United States. Crime is up, population is down, school buildings are still half-closed, subways are increasi
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