Are you a limousine liberal? Do you live in a trendy NYC neighborhood — maybe in a building with a doorman — but still vote for Democrats or consider yourself progressive?
Though he or she might prefer Uber rather than an actual limo, a limousine liberal is generally someone who espouses a brand of politics that doesn’t quite match up with his or her tax returns and actions.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, with his police-chauffeured SUV rides from Gracie Mansion to his Park Slope gym, is a limousine liberal. He tells tales of two cities, but it’s getting harder for New Yorkers to believe he’s in touch with theirs.
His liberal bona fides will be put to some sort of test in November. He’s raising tons of cash for his re-election campaign. No, he’s not using money from the now-defunct Campaign for One New York, which got substantial coin from real estate developers and invited the attention of local and federal prosecutors. However, the mayor’s progressivism and hat-in-hand requests for cash now look strange, and somewhat despicable, after this so-called progressive criticized how non-mayor New Yorkers ask for money on the street.
Not long after stepping out of his SUV and into a plane headed for Germany, our limousine liberal mayor phoned in to a NYC radio show and shared his disdain for panhandling. Some New Yorkers begging for money do it for the fun of it, he theorized, despite his lack to evidence to back it up. He’s asking the NYPD to be “creative” in how it enforces rules against begging, which isn’t illegal.
While de Blasio’s comments are reminiscent of Rudy Giuliani’s crusade against the squeegee men in the ’90s, keep in mind another irony for a mayor who’s attempted to promote his progressive image abroad despite a homelessness problem here at home. While de Blasio flew to Germany to protest world leaders, including President Donald Trump, during the G-20 gathering of world economic power brokers, residents in my neighborhood of East Harlem unveiled a mural on East 116th Street to protest the mayor.
Movimiento Por Justicia en El Barrio, an immigrant-led group of tenants and families who have rejected city rezoning plans for the neighborhood and rallied against the mayor, pushed for the mural to object to the mayor’s housing plan. A Trojan horse sits at the center of the mural, a symbol of the city’s affordable housing plan, which they say is a luxury housing plan.
As with all politicians, it’s best to focus on de Blasio’s actions — not his words or political stunts. Taking money from the real estate industry, being protested by tenants and bashing beggars aren’t indicative of a progressive reformer. You see, our limousine liberal mayor doesn’t want us to ask for change — either on the street or in ballot box. He represents the status quo of rising rents and disdain for the poor.
It’s time to show him the door and work to keep people in their homes with policies that favor the poor, not the rich.
Josmar Trujillo is a trainer, writer and activist with the Coalition to End Broken Windows.