Democrats shouldn’t blame a Republican wave for wiping them out in the mid-term elections, Mayor Bill de Blasio said today — they should blame themselves for not promising progressive policies.
“For everyone looking ahead to 2014, it comes down to this: Democrats have to be bold again,” Mr. de Blasio told Rev. Al Sharpton on his radio program, Keepin’ It Real.
The mayor doubled down on an argument he made in an op-ed for the Huffington Post today — that Democrats should not “soul search” or run away from their party’s values, but should offer big, progressive idea like minimum wage hikes and universal pre-kindergarten.
“If Democrats do that, we will actually motivate the American people to come out in droves in 2016 and elect a Democratic president,” Mr. de Blasio told Mr. Sharpton. “If Democrats fail to do that, it’s gonna be one hand clapping — and the only hand clapping will be a Republican one.”
Mr. de Blasio echoed the sentiments of many who have broken down the failure of Democrats to win or hold seats in saying that the party simply didn’t communicate a message.
“Too many Democrats in the midterms did not speak to people’s real lives, and speak to the economic reality that people are going through all over this nation,” Mr. de Blasio said. “A lot of people stayed home — a lot of voters stayed home, including Democratic voters, because they did not hear a message or a set of ideas that were relevant to their lives.”
Mr. Sharpton pointed to the mayor’s win in 2013 after running almost entirely on progressive issues, which would seem to go against this year’s right-wing successes. Mr. de Blasio added that his own victory came after 20 years of the seat being held by a Republican and a Republican-turned-Independent.
“We talked about income inequality right out in the open. It was core to the whole campaign,” Mr. de Blasio said. “Increasing wages and benefits, fixing schools, all things that would really change the dynamic.”
Those Democrats who lost did not give people “a clear reason to vote for them,” the mayor said.
“You look at the Democrats who stood up and made clear their progressive values, a lot of them did quite well,” he said.
Mr. de Blasio’s relentless endorsement of progressive campaigning and values may seem to some as a veiled message to the centrist Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo — who was challenged from the left in a primary by Zephyr Teachout and was derided by the Working Families Party and activists for not being progressive enough. The mayor did not mention Mr. Cuomo, who did win re-election, though by a smaller margin than he might have liked.
“Be real Democrats,” Mr. de Blasio urged members of his party. “Be progressive. Be consistent. Be proud of it.”
The mayor’s appearance on Mr. Sharpton’s radio show, during which he also discussed the city’s new policy on marijuana possession, is sure to rile NYPD unions, who have stridently objected to the mayor’s relationship with the civil rights activist, whom they have called as divisive an anti-police.