The relationship between Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and now President-elect Donald Trump has been contentious to say the least. Before the 2016 Presidential election, the Mayor called Donald Trump a “racist con man who got rich by taking advantage of working people.” President-elect Trump for his part called Mayor de Blasio a “maniac” and the “worst mayor in the history of New York City.” With that history of insults behind them, the two men had their first face-to-face meeting since the election on Wednesday the 16th in New York City.
Mayor Bill de Blasio is in a precarious position as to how to deal with the current President-elect. There are very serious issues he has to bring to bear, but has to do so in a diplomatic and congenial manner, or risk flat-out political opposition. However, considering the political climate in New York City is hardly 100% supportive of the new President-elect, being assertive about issues that affect New Yorkers lives is certainly to the Mayor’s advantage. Douglas Muzzio is a professor at Baruch College who specializes in politics.
As he told the Daily News, “It’s perfect for him [Mayor de Blasio]. He’s got an enemy. The mayor is in an election year and wants to be in the center of the drama. He’s playing the good guy, the hero.” However, the Mayor still has to play his cards carefully in this political game. As Professor Muzzio put it, “He can’t demonize Trump. He can oppose his policies, but he has got an instrumental reason for wanting Trump not to screw the city.”
Among the issues that Mayor de Blasio brought up at his meeting were the appointment of Steve Bannon as President-elect Trump’s strategist. Mr. Bannon is a well-known extremely right-wing political figure, and there is concern about Mr. Bannon’s support of the New York City Police Department policy of stop-and-frisk (currently discontinued) as well as planned mass deportation of immigrants. According to the Mayor, “I tried to express to him how much fear there is in communities all over this city [and that there are] a whole range of people in the city and in this country that are fearful” of what the upcoming Presidents administration might do. Other concerns were over potential abuse of Muslims in America.
The Mayor further stated that he,”…expressed to him [President-elect Trump] that I knew we had very real philosophical differences, but that I was ready to work on these issues and represent the needs of New York City. But I wanted to do it in the perspective of let me put my cards on the table, not only about what I believe, but what’s in the interest of my city, what people’s needs are, their fears are. I wanted to start the relationship by being crystal clear.”
The Mayor sought to further comfort New Yorkers from being distraught about the new President with the following, “I reiterated to the President-elect that I would be open minded as we continue substantive discussions, but I would also be vigilant. And I would be swift to react anytime an action is taken that will undermine the people of New York City.”
For their part, President-elect Trumps campaign manager, Kellyane Conway described the meeting between the two as, “productive.”
By: Anat Ghelber
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