Congrats to Mayor Bill de Blasio (and His Awesome Family)Carolyn Castiglia
Democrat Bill de Blasio won the New York City mayoral election by a landslide last night, some would say thanks in large part to campaign efforts by his “telegenic” multiracial family. Yes, it’s true, the de Blasios could inhabit a sitcom like Modern Family: the sort of stiff white dad, the black (former lesbian) mom and their two goofy-cute bi-racial teenagers, the boy with the ‘fro and the girl with the floral crown. Their post-racial Huxtablesque charm is precisely what makes the de Blasios so damn adorable. Like the Obamas, they are very obviously a truly loving, mutually supportive unit, and in a nation full of broken, toxic, and dysfunctional marriages and families, New Yorkers should be aching to embrace them as the First Family.
Bill de Blasio is the first Democrat to be elected Mayor of New York since David Dinkins in 1989, yet in spite of his historic win, the cynicism surrounding de Blasio “using” his wife and children in his campaign is rampant, even among those who voted for him. The New York Daily News, which endorsed de Blasio, but “with worrying reservations and strong prescriptions for the candidate,” used the following caption today under a photo of the de Blasio family that accompanied a piece about his win: “Bill de Blasio can jump for joy thanks to his telegenic kids, from far left, Chiara and Dante. Their ads — and dance moves — helped carry their dad to New York City Hall.”
When Dante de Blasio’s charming 30 second television ad in support of his father’s campaign was released before the primary, New York’s current mayor, Michael Bloomberg, was the first to strike by publicly criticizing the ad, going so far as to call it racist. The word “racist” makes no sense in this context, and only proved Bloomberg himself to be a bit racist, given that he was angry that de Blasio’s family might appeal to minority voters. And why shouldn’t they? Isn’t it fitting that the most diverse city in the world be represented by a diverse family?
I love how much Bill de Blasio loves his wife and children, how it’s clear that he views his wife Chirlane McCray as an equal and a partner. (Full disclosure: the couple took questions at my daughter’s school last Spring, well before de Blasio was poised to beat Christine Quinn in the primary, and I took note right away that they are a true team. The fact that they are a beautiful, strong interracial couple is only icing on the cake.) In response to Bloomberg’s comments about de Blasio’s family, McCray told the Times, “Do I look like an inanimate object? Or a tool? I walk, I talk and make my own decisions.” (s l O W CLAP!!!) I love that Dante and Chiara de Blasio love their dad and are civic-minded young people. These children are not some campaign props, begrudgingly smiling for cameras and supporting their father because they know they have to or else, these are engaged, responsible, idealistic young people who love the city they live in and want to see it offer more opportunities to the fast-fading middle class and to the minorities they have now come to represent.
We as citizens should be moved by Dante de Blasio, a student at the elite public high school Brooklyn Tech, talking about the importance of ending Stop and Frisk initiatives by the police department, because he is likely to be subject to (or has been subject to) those tactics. A good kid from Park Slope who looks “suspect” because of his hair. The hair that won the election. Mmm-hmm. It’s not de Blasio’s experience as a mayoral aid to Dinkins or on Hillary Clinton’s Senate campaign or as New York City Public Advocate or his deeply-craved populist ideas that won him the people’s vote by a historic landslide. It’s his son Dante’s hair. (*eye roll*)
America needs more people in leadership roles who are willing to put the genuine love they have for their family on display and who are willing to say America needs better (and real) family values. Women like Kirsten Gillibrand, who has very young children and a skyrocketing political career. Men like Bill de Blasio. These are not heartless political monsters using their families to forward a selfish dream. These are dedicated, loving human beings who are involved in our broken political system because they want to help other families get what they deserve. Bill de Blasio is a family man through and through, and that’s something we should all rally around. In a touching campaign video, de Blasio said, “Something I feel very strongly is you’ve got to treat your family and the other people in your life with a lot of love and respect and you’ve got to treat the society around you the same way. I know people who’ve done one, but not the other. And I really resolved very early on to try and do both.” I’m very proud as a New Yorker to now be represented by both these politicians, and I plan to go learn the de Blasio Smackdown to celebrate.