It’s conventional wisdom that New Yorkers wouldn’t do well in a national presidential race, because we are too gruff and outspoken. That myth has been shattered.
“I will make America great again!” boasts Queens native and leading Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
“Congress doesn’t regulate Wall Street. Wall Street regulates Congress!” growls Brooklyn-born Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is giving Hillary Clinton, a former senator from New York, a run for her money in the Democratic nomination race.
The country is in an angry mood, sick of conventional politicians. While in most ways, Sanders and Trump couldn’t be more different, they are both native New Yorkers with blunt speaking styles that have caught fire across the nation.
Trump’s silver-spoon upbringing in Jamaica Estates doesn’t preclude him from sounding like the blowhard at the end of a NYC bar. His verbal barrages against minorities and fellow politicians never cease.
He’s systematically knocked off GOP opponents with a cutting, New York wiseguy-style word or phrase, starting with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (“Wisconsin is doing terribly!”), and Rick Perry (“He put on glasses so people think he’s smart”). Trump constantly mocks “low energy” Jeb Bush, taunting him with, “Your brother’s administration gave us Barack Obama, because it was such a disaster those last three months that Abraham Lincoln couldn’t have been elected.”
Meanwhile, Sanders, who was brought up in a working-class Brooklyn home and sounds it, has generally taken the high road in his battle with Clinton. Many Bernie supporters are itching for him to take off the gloves, and lately Sanders has gone after her for being in the pocket of the big banks.
Trump and Sanders haven’t spared each other, either. “We need a tough, strong leader in the White House, and it’s not this guy!” Trump mocked, while Sanders has called Trump “an embarrassment to our country.”
Can you imagine it coming down to gruff Bernie from Brooklyn and preening Donald from Queens squaring off in November?
That would be yooge.
Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at newyorkgritty.net.