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Michael Goodwin: Dems and New York City – Mayoral election could decide the fate of the party. Here is how


With his declaration “I am the face of the Democratic Party” and the vow “I will show America how to rule a city”, Eric Adams is making courageous signals for the future, not just for his own. He is right that solving the New York crime problem would raise his party’s fortunes – but the opposite is also true.

A failure by Adams could mark the end of Dems’ dominance in urban America.

That the stakes are so high, even before Adams secures his party’s mayor nomination and wins the general election, shows how murder and chaos have skyrocketed voter concerns.

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A year ago, Joe Biden accepted the nomination for president at a virtual convention that barely mentioned the unrest and looting in American cities.

Just last week, Biden finally addressed the furious violence by saying that crime-ravaged cities could use their COVID relief money to hire more police officers. This is certainly a move from a president who has fueled the anti-police movement by repeatedly calling the law enforcement and criminal justice process “systemically racist”.

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Fortunately, this sentence was missing when Biden spoke on Thursday. He’s going to put it on hold for good if he really wants public safety and police reform.

Of course, race and police are hip-related, and with Adams living on both sides of the flammable matter, his mayor’s office would have a particular resonance. As a former captain of the NYPD, he said he was brutally ill-treated by police as a teenager and was a constant critic while on duty.

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One result of this story is the widespread skepticism among many police veterans and other New Yorkers about his involvement in the fight against crime.

At the same time, his experience added to his credibility with many non-white voters who suffer from high crime rates but are not always enthusiastic about the police reaction.

Election patterns show that Adams built his lead of 75,000 votes in black and Latin American working-class neighborhoods outside of Manhattan. According to one analysis, he won over 60% of the vote in Jamaica, southeast Queens, and over 45% in Mott Haven, Bronx, against seven other well-funded candidates.

The optimistic view is that a Mayor Adams would have the opportunity to write a new chapter in urban policing. The “broken window” theory that Rudy Giuliani and Bill Bratton began taming New York with nearly three decades ago has been discarded in Gotham and many other places where it has been adopted.

Never being replaced by an effective alternative, criminal violence and disorder filled the vacuum. Now the burden is on the Democrats to find a new way to make and maintain peace.

His main appointment will be his police superintendent, whom he said was a woman.

According to Adams, who was the only candidate consistently focused on crime, the policy is straight forward. Polls showed this is the number one issue for voters, and Adams takes that message to the next step by saying that if his party “doesn’t realize what we’ve done here in New York City, they’ll have a problem with it have “the midterm elections and they’re going to have a problem in the presidential election.”

All true – but Adams must first back up his promise with results. Statistics will tell a lot of the story, but the real test will be whether New Yorkers actually feel safer because of his politics.

To do that, he needs to build a new consensus on acceptable police tactics and get prosecutors and lawmakers to end the revolving doors in courthouses where too many arrested suspects are released immediately. Those are huge hurdles and Adams should start selling early while he’s still enjoying a political honeymoon.

Its plan to restore an undercover anti-weapons team is imperative, but it must also protect it from the inevitable criticism. If it’s not well thought out and causes so many problems that he has to row back, that would be the go-ahead for thugs.

FILE - In this file photo taken on Tuesday, June 22, 2021, Democratic mayoral candidate Eric Adams speaks to supporters at his primary night party in New York.  Adams has a lead in New York City's Democratic Mayor's area code, but with hundreds of thousands of votes to be redistributed in a new ranking electoral system, opponents Maya Wiley or Kathryn Garcia remained at the top .  (AP Photo / Kevin Hagen, File).

FILE – In this file photo taken on Tuesday, June 22, 2021, Democratic mayoral candidate Eric Adams speaks to supporters at his primary night party in New York. Adams has a lead in New York City’s Democratic Mayor’s area code, but with hundreds of thousands of votes to be redistributed in a new ranking electoral system, opponents Maya Wiley or Kathryn Garcia remained at the top . (AP Photo / Kevin Hagen, File).

There is also the crucial issue of how to deal with flash point incidents. As it stands, much of the left in New York initially assumes that the police are always wrong, which makes any police a potential spark of rioting.

Adams could do worse than following one of Giuliani’s habits. To stop the onslaught of public opinion, Giuliani called for officials involved in controversial actions to be admitted in case of doubt until all the facts are known.

Far more often, these facts showed that the police were justified in exposing extenuating circumstances that were not immediately apparent.

Obviously, it is more difficult to achieve public patience since both police and witnesses have cameras. Still, it is worthwhile for Adams to emphasize that all is not what it seems and to lead by example by allowing time for the facts to emerge.

His main appointment will be his police superintendent, whom he said was a woman. Not only must she stop the endless shooting, but she must also prevent violent protests from getting out of hand. Nothing destroys the public’s trust in the town hall faster than unchecked riots, whatever the initial spark.

Favoring the police when in doubt would also help change the attitudes of the officers themselves. It’s no secret that many in the NYPD feel abandoned by the public and the political class.

Retirements are reaching record highs and it is understandable that many active officials have become more reluctant to engage in situations where they encounter resistance.

In this regard, Adams hit the bull’s eye with his criticism of the city council, which had passed a stranglehold ban without consulting police organizations.

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“I’m against the stranglehold … but when you say you can’t touch someone’s chest … it’s just not realistic,” he said on MSNBC.

The long journey to a safe and orderly New York begins, and Adams’ first steps are promising. Thank God for this important mission.

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