Memo to GOP Hopefuls: Confronting ‘New York Values’ Is Key to Saving the USA

By John Zmirak Published on January 15, 2016

It started off as a throwaway line, what Ted Cruz said about “New York values”— an echo of old political shorthand like “San Francisco values,” a phrase which encodes as much or as little as the audience that hears it chooses. But Donald Trump took public umbrage at this remark, and blew it sky high at the GOP debate by invoking the heroism of cops and firemen on 9/11, to the roaring approval of the Charleston, S.C. audience — and even of Sen. Cruz, an expert debater, who applauded Trump’s brilliant chess move.

Online, pundits at conservative venues such as National Review and Commentary (both New York City-based) grumbled at Cruz and reluctantly sided with Trump. The normally sensible Texan Kevin Williamson warned in a Tweet that in bashing New York, Cruz risked offending “everyone who lives in a city.” Cruz quickly backed off, and on his face you could almost see a red line striking three words out of a printed speech forever.

Not so fast, Republicans. Granted, the line itself may be more liability than asset in a national election, but as a native New Yorker who loves the place, who worked and scraped to live there for most of his life, I can tell you that New York City, no less than Detroit, is a rich mine of insights on how not to govern anyplace, anywhere, ever. The ideology that rules the Five Boroughs is a laundry list of toxic political correctness. If you’re not willing to criticize the “values” that prevail in New York City, which America’s elite (who mostly live there) are busily stuffing down the throats of the rest of the country, then you have no business running for office as a Republican. It’s time to go Texan or go home.

What do we mean by “New York values”? Not the courage of first responders and stoicism of stunned civilians, that got us through the day of burning towers and the months of the smell of death in 2001. Public servants are equally brave in every city in America, and citizens from Sandy Hook to San Bernardino pull together after disasters.

We don’t mean the grudging, good-humored tolerance that keeps us from strangling each other on crowded subways, or even the crackpot determination to live without a driver’s license, whatever the cost in rent, taxes, or troubles. (I got my license at age 36, and still prefer using Uber, even in Dallas.)

We don’t mean the courage and civic-mindedness of recent Chinese immigrants, who gathered in Queens last year to protest loudly and mostly in Mandarin against Mayor de Blasio’s placement of a homeless center for drug addicts smack-dab in their working class neighborhood.

We don’t mean Archbishop Fulton Sheen, or Tony Bennett or William F. Buckley or Norman Podhoretz. We don’t mean Wall Street, or Broadway.

We mean the policies and politicians that New Yorkers inflict on themselves, and the social attitudes that they use their vast influence to impose on the rest of America. A city as naturally rich, with as many inbuilt advantages as New York, has only just barely survived collapse several times (in the mid-70s, then again in the early 90s) thanks to those policies. They would break any lesser city and if they are not contained they will devastate America, leaving only a few wealthy enclaves intact — including, no doubt, Manhattan. The rich we will always have with us.

The mayor of New York City is radical leftist Bill de Blasio, who in the 1980s went to Nicaragua to help the Sandinistas impose their totalitarian system on that hapless country. Imagine if some conservative city elected a former volunteer for South Africa’s apartheid government… you can’t, can you? We don’t do that sort of thing, but New York liberals do, with a blasé chuckle. It’s par for the course. New York is a city where:

  • More black babies are aborted than are born. In fact, its abortion rate is one of the highest in America.
  • Pro-life pregnancy centers are targeted by the city and the state, constantly harassed, and always fighting in court to keep their doors open.
  • It’s illegal even to ask a potential employee if he has a criminal record.
  • Police are no longer permitted to stop and frisk potential suspects — a practice that helped slash New York’s once staggering murder rate, and saved thousands of black and Latino lives.
  • Al Sharpton is taken seriously as a “community leader.”
  • The authorities will no longer focus on mosques as potential terror centers.
  • Refusing to accept an employee’s “transgender” fantasies, and let him use the ladies’ locker room, can earn you a $250,000 fine.
  • The teachers unions which elected De Blasio won’t let the city remove abusive instructors from public schools, sometimes for years. Instead, such teachers collect their full salaries while sitting in “rubber rooms,” doing crossword puzzles or surfing the Internet.
  • There is a state income tax, a city income tax, and a special “unincorporated business tax” that targets hard-pressed freelancers.
  • The gay lobby is so powerful that the Catholic archbishop threw in the towel, and let sex activists march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade, which marks the conversion of Ireland to Christianity.

Let me clue you in on a secret about New York: There aren’t so many New Yorkers there — not natives, anyway. Every year the place is flooded by ambitious valedictorians from all across the country who are fleeing their “small-minded” home towns or want to make it big in “The City.” That limitless demand for housing, which remains in fixed supply, has exactly the effect on its price that you might expect.

With a few elite exceptions, the public schools are outright unusable — chaotic holding tanks for juvie and Riker’s Island. So for each child you hope to raise in your small house or apartment, figure in the cost of 12 years of private school. The nuns are mostly gone, so Catholic schools aren’t as cheap as they used to be, but their underpaid, hard-working teachers are still the backbone of education in New York City.

The city is run by the renters, so landlords and home builders are harried by outdated rules such as rent control and “stabilization,” and a truly crackpot law grants “squatters’ rights” to anyone who stays on your couch for more than a couple weeks — so be careful in your choice of house guests.

Kennedy Airport makes New York City a border town as much as Brownsville, TX, and our country’s refusal to deport illegals or even check immigrants’ visas means that New York’s welfare rolls and hospitals are constantly flooded with recent arrivals from Afghanistan and Honduras. Who foots the bill to deliver their anchor babies? The hapless taxpayers of New York.

Those who grew up there get squeezed out, priced out, taxed out, and at the first chance flee to the suburbs, as both of my sisters did. The middle and working class whites who elected Mayor Rudolph Giuliani just in time to save the City from David Dinkin’s Democrat crime wave have largely relocated to Long Island. Left behind are the valedictorians; the middle class who bought their homes back before a one-family house in an ugly, distant neighborhood cost $1 million; the people in rent-fixed apartments who’d be crazy ever to move; and the millions in public housing who largely live on the dole.

This is not the model our Founders had in mind for a sustainable republic, and it’s not the place that ought to be setting the trend for America. It’s a wonderful, unique city that can only survive in a weird symbiosis with a stodgier, saner hinterland that reins in its excesses. Republicans who emerge from the New York milieu, such as Nelson Rockefeller, John Lindsay, Rudolph Giuliani, Michael Bloomberg (now an independent), and New Jersey’s Chris Christie, ought not to set the tone for the national party. Even New Yorkers know that. We count on the rest of the country to save us from ourselves.

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