On Tuesday New York's voters spoke. Wednesday the mayor got his turn. At a lower Manhattan forum, Mike Bloomberg addressed the challenges of tomorrow amid a rising populist tide.
He reminded his audience that progress isn't a given.
It takes endless work, he said, to meet the challenges of a national recession, or extreme weather, or terrorism, or crime: "We can never forget the lessons we've learned: The future isn't preordained. It's ours to shape and to strengthen as best we can."
But how? Bloomberg points to the dramatic resurgence of lower Manhattan and Ground Zero in the 12 years since 9/11. We've emerged from the shadow of the worst day in our history to enter a promising new era, he says.
Downtown now has more than 600 tech companies, says the Downtown Alliance, which manages the local business improvement district. It's one of the city's fastest-growing residential neighborhoods. Tourism is off the charts. Employment is on an upswing.
But what about the scenario Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio keeps talking about? The one where residents in old industrial neighborhoods face fast-rising rents as young professionals move in? The one where working-class wages have been stagnant for years? The one where recent college grads with gargantuan loan burdens face a job market offering near-poverty wages?
Well, de Blasio is right, too. But not because Bloomberg lets the plutocrats run the city on the backs of the poor.
The city is a work in progress -- as it always has been and always will be. It survived the feckless corrosiveness of the 1970s and the unthinkable destruction of 9/11. It has bounced back with power and panache.
Now it must tackle new issues without losing its gains.
The outlines of the New York that Bloomberg leaves us should last. But it'll fall to his successor to jump-start the force of upward mobility that has been our hallmark.
Bottom line: We want it all -- a city that works for the rich, for the middle class and for the poor. So who can give us that? The candidates need to show us what they'll do.