Ideology

Citywide politics in post-Rudy New York seems to be taking a break from ideology. Mike Bloomberg doesn’t really have one, and none of his rivals is making an ideological case against him. The only ideologue of Rudy’s intensity running citywide this year is, of course, Norman Siegel, the left-libertarian candidate for public advocate.

This is one of several reasons the race for Manhattan borough president is emerging as the season’s most interesting. It’s difficult to write about in the newspapers, because you spend all your time listing the nine (or is it ten?) candidates, about half of whom seem to have some chance of winning on any given day.

In that crop, however, are two real ideologues: Eva Moskowitz is a true New Democrat, with a profile in the movement’s house magazine to prove it. Her willingness to take on labor has made her something of a star and an editorial-page favorite, and a central question of the race is whether a candidate can get away with scorning the party’s dominant interest groups.

At the other end of the spectrum, Bill Perkins is running as a real Man of the Left. It’s a position he’s occupied since his days as a student radical at Brown. He’s plugged into the new liberal group Cities for Progress, which is trying to retake the Democratic Party the way the New Democrats did in the pre-Clinton dark days. You may have missed it, but this Perkins plug in the Nation must have been nice for his campaign — you’ve got to figure that a pretty good percentage of Nation readers are prime Democratic voters in Manhattan.

The other candidates aren’t cut along such clear ideological lines, though Scott Stringer is basically an old-fashioned West Side reform Democrat, and Margarita Lopez could be seen as an old-fashioned lower-East Side radical.

This would have the making of an interesting set of debates — if only there were a couple fewer candidates…