Tuesday, Nov. 7, will be an election night in the U.S., including local elections with national significance. One of these is Bill de Blasio’s almost certain re-election as New York City mayor, against which the Republicans have deployed conservative Nicole Malliotakis.
After a year of absence, Bernie Sanders returned to the stage to campaign for de Blasio on Monday. He was welcomed as a rock star, as always. De Blasio took months before endorsing Hillary Clinton for the primaries, since he tended to be much closer to Sanders, both socialists and free spirits, not at the center of the party.
This joint event proved it. From the stage, they both used language that seemed borrowed from the Occupy Wall Street movement — the 1 percent, the resistance. De Blasio is the de facto incarnation of Sanders’ policy, based on redistribution of resources, solidarity and protection of minorities.
The mayor began by thanking his wife, Chirlane McCray, the creator of the program for mental health prevention and care that offers New Yorkers the opportunity to have professional assistance for all invisible psychiatric illnesses through a network of associations established and instituted by the mayor’s office.
He also recalled the highlights of his first term as mayor: free public kindergartens, free meals in all public schools, low-cost housing, rent freezes and the possibility of providing evicted citizens with legal counseling, the creation of new jobs, and the fact he kept his promise of ending the hateful discriminatory practice of warrantless police checks known as “stop-and-frisk.”
De Blasio stressed that all these steps forward were not implemented only in the display borough of Manhattan but also in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. He also talked about his plan to tax New York’s super-rich to pay for repairs in the city’s filthy subway network and monthly passes whose cost is determined by income bracket.
But he did not keep the stage for long and allowed Sanders to speak. A boom and an infinite applause greeted him. When passing the microphone, the mayor said, “He is the person who made it clear that in order to trigger political action, we have to have a visionary dream and create a movement. He has transmitted this dream and created this movement, and you are it.”
Sanders continued on the same tone but, unlike De Blasio, who only mentioned him briefly, he went on to attack Trump. “Everything Bill is trying to do is the opposite of what Trump would like to do. Trump, in an extremely unpopular, hateful and unprecedented way, is trying to divide us by the color of our skin or our religion, the country we come from or our sexual orientation, while this mayor pushes the city forward, seeking unity and integration.”
Sanders talked about IDNY, a citizen identity card that is given regardless of the legal status of immigrants, which allows them to open a bank account, to access health programs, and protects them from employer abuse. He explained, “This is not just about getting re-elected, but to do so with powerful actions to send a message to Washington.”
That statement summarizes all the work Sanders has done since nominating Clinton as the presidential candidate: moving the party to the left while supporting local politicians who share his revolutionary idea of a more equitable society.
This idea of political revolution, as Sanders has always defined it, is revitalizing the American left that confronts a Democratic Party completely annihilated by the electoral defeat and that keeps repeating the same practices that have create this chasm from the electorate.
The event ended with the Bowie tune “Starman,” Sanders’ theme song. Everyone was excited and the audience chanted “Feel The Bern,” his electoral slogan, demonstrating that the movement born during the Democratic primaries continues. It did not end with Trump’s election.