Bill de Blasio is out of place at the DNC

PHILADELPHIA — Briefly, Mayor Bill de Blasio headlined the event.

He was able to talk about a movement that’s devoted to addressing income inequality, a movement that is blossoming in New York City.

He was able to talk about the progressive accomplishments of his administration — in particular, establishing full-day pre-k and making progress toward paid family leave and a higher minimum wage.

He was able to speak sweepingly, as he sometimes likes to do, referencing the New Deal and the Marshall Plan as anchors for this burgeoning movement. He was even late, like a true bigshot is allowed to be.

But none of this was at the Democratic National Convention.

He was speaking at an event organized by the Working Families Party, third-party counterprogramming to the main event.

Edged out of the spotlight

The progressive values that de Blasio preaches have gone mainstream. They are part of the Democratic Party platform and are cited on the convention floor.

Yet de Blasio has been shown little love, scoring an early speaking slot Wednesday while former Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to be featured more prominently.

At a gathering of the New York delegation Tuesday morning, de Blasio rival Gov. Andrew Cuomo got the lion’s share of the praise from Sen. Bernie Sanders, who showed up on his pro-Clinton tour.

Praise for raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour went to Cuomo, a recent convert.

As has been the case often in de Blasio’s term, he was put in a difficult position viz. a viz. the presidential race. This former city councilman who was swept to office in a progressive fervor seemed ideologically poised to endorse Sanders, even trying to launch a national progressive movement himself that didn’t go anywhere. Yet he went with his old boss Clinton, belatedly, effectively making no one politically happy with him.

Since then — and throughout the New York presidential primary — he was forced to juggle a Clintonian commitment to getting things done, with the audacious dreams of leftists.

But here, with the surprising fervor of Sanders supporters even after Clinton won the nomination, progressive values are getting unabashed play. So de Blasio’s rhetoric at a Working Families Party meeting didn’t seem so different than the chatter on the convention floor.

Let him be

It may be that these newly popular progressive ideals will get less play now that Clinton officially has the nomination and the threat of Donald Trump’s election looks more and more imminent.

Speakers have been incredibly indulgent of a second-place candidate so far this convention. Though Sanders has dominated the conversation that may change for the rest of the convention.

The progressive rhetoric of the week could represent a clear message for Clinton’s candidacy that rivals “Make America Great Again,” to go with her depth of experience, immersion in policy and historic candidacy.

Either way, New York makes a strong case for the continuation of Sanders’ so-called political revolution, which he so often says must be carried on at the local level. De Blasio is joined by other progressive, often Working Families Party-backed leaders in the public advocate’s office and the City Council. A handful of them watched de Blasio speak Tuesday morning.

Now that the progressives have control, however, they face the usual challenges of those in power — attacks from both sides and pressure to compromise. De Blasio has experienced this, governing with progressive ideals though the end product is sometimes less so, particularly with regards to criminal justice.

Even Working Families in its New York stronghold did some surprising compromising (or capitulating) in 2014, when the party endorsed fiscally conservative Cuomo in lieu of progressive star Zephyr Teachout, now running for Congress.

The WFP session included none of that waffling Tuesday, celebrating the progressive talk from the outside of the big convention. “I’m just glad I lived this long,” de Blasio said grandly.

Let him have his day.

This is amExpress, the conversation starter for New Yorkers.