First, there is De Blasio's victory in the New York mayoral primary.
An afro-wearing John Stewart captured New Yorkers' excitement over the De Blasio win:
But the afro and the De Blasio family's sheer cuteness is the least of it.
De Blasio, New York's public advocate, was repeatedly discounted as too liberal for Bloomberg's New York.
But it turns out that his pro-public-school, anti-inequality, "tale of two cities" progressive message was a winner in New York.
An interesting piece by Peter Beinart in the Daily Beast today suggests that De Blasio's win is more than a local story. Instead, Beinart suggests, "de Blasio's victory is an omen of what may become the defining story of America's net political era: the challenge, to both parties, from the left."
Digging into data on young voters, Beinart points out that they are much more concerned about economic inequality, and much more interested in government-sponsored fixes for the lack of health care, decent wages, and other supports, than either Clinton Democrats or Reagan Republicans.
Beinart points to the Occupy movement, and the popularity of progressive, anti-Wall Street pols like Elizabeth Warren as evidence that rising inequality has finally turned a generation of voters against the anti-big-government gospel of Reaganites and Clinton Democrats alike.
In New York, this analysis by business reporter and editor S. Mitra Kalita reinforces Beinart's point. Nowhere is the contrast between the income explosion for the top 1 percent and the depression-level income decline at the lower end of the economic ladder more explicit than in America's most unequal city.
For public school advocates, De Blasio's victory is particularly good news.
Nowhere is the bipartisan pro-business, anti-government, anti-labor orthodoxy more visible than in the attack on public education in New York and across the country.
De Blasio ran against the idea that privatization and closing schools is the answer in New York.
"As a public school parent, former school board member, former City Council Member, an Public Advocate, Bill de Blasio has fought for every child in New York City to get what his own daughter and son received--an education from a New York City public high school that prepares students for success," his campaign web site declares.
On his list of education priorities are "creating truly universal pre-kindergarten and after-school programs" funded by a tax on New Yorkers who make $500,000 or more, and "fighting unfair closures by standing up for struggling schools." He successfully fought the closure of P.S. 114 in Canarsie, Wadleigh in Harlem, and Maxwell High School in East New York, his web site adds.
De Blasio connects the struggle for school equity to his broader economic justice theme. As he puts it, "The Tale of Two Cities in our schools must come to an end."
That's a far cry from the union-bashing, pro-competition, pro-privatization model that blames teachers for poor kids' failure to thrive in school.
De Blasio was the sharpest critic of Mayor Bloomberg's education policies of all the candidates in the race.
"The election was a clear repudiation of Bloomberg’s strategies of test-based accountability, closing schools (despite community opposition), and charter schools," Ravitch writes.
More broadly, it was a sign of a winning progressive politics that rejects the failed notion that business does everything better, that what the poor need is to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, and that massive income inequality and an insurmountable opportunity gap is something Americans should simply accept as the norm.
That's good news for progressives--and for anyone who cares about a more just and more equal society.
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