Editor’s Page

Editor’s Page

Upon being elected mayor of New York City with nearly 75 percent of the vote, Bill de Blasio began his victory speech with words to gladden the heart of just about anyone who has ever written for Dissent: “Tackling inequality isn’t easy; it never has been, and never will be. The challenges we face have been decades in the making, and the problems we set out to address will not be solved overnight. But make no mistake: the people of this city have chosen a progressive path, and tonight we set forth on it, together, as one city.” He then repeated the last two sentences in Spanish.

Was de Blasio’s landslide win the harbinger of a larger, more unified American left? Nearly every progressive movement in American history was born in the cities and drew its strongest support from the modernist mingling of intellectuals, artists, working-class immigrants, and creative professionals to be found there. These movements—from pioneer labor unionists in the 1820s to settlement house workers at the end of the nineteenth century, to gay liberationists in the 1970s and ’80s—then aided local politicians who endorsed some of their demands, while pressuring them to go further.

New York wasn’t the only metropolis in 2013 to choose a new mayor who ran on an unabashedly progressive platform. In Seattle, Ed Murray, a gay man who led the fight for same-sex marriage in the state legislature, promised to raise taxes on the rich and to boost the minimum wage to ...

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