Dolman: Can Bill de Blasio win by talking about class?

New York mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio speaks at Victory Seventh-Day Adventist Church in the Bronx. (Aug. 17, 2013)
New York mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio speaks at Victory Seventh-Day Adventist Church in the Bronx. (Aug. 17, 2013) Photo Credit: Applecorps Ltd.

Congratulations, Bill de Blasio, on a fine primary showing.

You were out on the streets to save crucial institutions like Long Island College Hospital before it was cool. You were one of the first to pick up on the city’s considerable case of Bloomberg fatigue.

You didn’t stuff our mailboxes full of flyers. Dante was a television sensation—and you had the wonderful luck to drive Michael Bloomberg straight over the edge in a New York Magazine interview that hit the streets a day before the election.

Really. When you can get the 13th wealthiest man in the world to publicly denounce your tactics as “racist” simply because you put your own son in a television spot, you know you’ve struck populist gold.

But here’s what I want to know.

Do you honestly believe that the defining story of modern New York boils down to a tale of two cities? That a little gratuitous and destructive, isn’t it?

It has the unmistakable odor of wedge politics. It helps you climb up the political food chain by cynically – but falsely – suggesting that New Yorkers perhaps should resent each other.

Look. Throughout its 400-year history, New York City has taken in the world’s tired and weary and sold them a dream. But it wasn’t about income equality. The dream was that maybe one day —if you caught the right breaks and worked like mad – you could ascend into the middle class or beyond.

Income equality makes little sense in a global city like New York where people are still arriving from every corner of the earth.

What does make sense is income mobility.

We should all be angry about schools that don’t work, about an economy that isn’t up to speed, about a housing market that’s getting dangerously expensive, about hospitals that are closing. Anything that make the climb slower and harder is no good.

But we should understand that we’re all diminished when mobility falters – employers, entry-level employees, anyone else trying to get ahead.

Life is tough enough without the political class suggesting new people for us to resent.