Bill de Blasio is unlike any New York mayor in recent memory, a staunch progressive, a crusader against income inequality and for affordable housing, a man who has as little use for Park Avenue elites as they do for him. In terms of the national political scene, that makes him a far more significant figure on the left than any New York mayor in years. In fact, if you believe that the popularity of politicians such as Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren and Vermont senator Bernie Sanders represents a new “progressive moment’’ in American politics, it’s de Blasio who is the one who bears watching. He is the only progressive governing anything of note, and while mayor of New York has historically been a dead-end job for those seeking higher office, it’s clear his ambitions aren’t confined to the city limits.
How far left is de Blasio? This is a man who cut his teeth during the 1980s raising money and distributing food for Nicaragua’s Communist Sandinista government, who later married an African-American woman who once identified as a radical lesbian, and who honeymooned in Cuba. A speaker at his inauguration memorably called New York a “plantation,” referring to inequality in the city.