Following on dirtgirl's post about the latest poll numbers, I have to say that the situation is really inexcusable.
The inability of the Democrats to enunciate any kind of clear and convincing message is almost scandalous. One of the candidates told me, essentially, "it's early, nobody's interested, and anyway the media won't report what my message is." That's bull. You have to make yourself heard - and if not now, when? After Bloomberg starts unleashing his millions?
People are anxious about the future of New York City. This is a city where people pay obscene proportions of their income in rent; where useful neighborhood businesses are disappearing and being replaced by luxury boutiques and big-box stores; where parents worry because they have to beat the system just to get their kids a quality education; where fares are going up while the transit system is starting to fall apart; where an underlying dread of terrorism mingles with a constant anxiety over whether you can keep up - keep up with the prices, keep up with the development, keep up with the job market, keep up with the constant stream of demands just to live in this town. And in the middle of all this, we have a billionaire mayor whose only really apparent concern is giving his friends a shiny new stadium on the West Side of Manhattan.
People say that Bloomberg is inoffensive. It amazes me that there is so little effort put into painting a basic, overarching picture of how this man fails to understand what New York City needs now. New York City needs security, and it needs hope. We know that things aren't as bad as they were, say, in 1978 or 1991, but we need a leader who can convincingly say "I know how hard it can be to get by in this town. I know that New Yorkers want a leader whose first priority is to keep this city liveable, so that they are safe from crime and terrorism, so that they can feel confident about sending their kids to the schools, so that they can find a decent, affordable place to live. To Bloomberg, New York is about money. To me, New York is about New Yorkers."
Of course there are probably better ways to phrase it. But the basic point is this: this is a moment in NYC history when it is going to matter very much what kind of values guide the city's leadership. And to beat Bloomberg, some candidate is going to have to make a clear and simple case: My values are what this town needs now.
But I'm not optimistic that anyone gets that.