Throughout the entirety of the general election and primary election process, New Yorkers have been inundated with labels. The terms progressive, moderate, and radical have been thrown around with such reckless abandon that the words have been practically divorced from their original meanings.
Depending on the day, the labels assigned to a politician can shift. When they are attending a press conference in the yuppie havens of Williamsburg and Park Slope, the politician will call themselves a lifelong progressive.
When that same politician walks around a neighborhood in Queens later that afternoon, they will swear by their moderate, pro-business beliefs.
All the while, conservative media outlets will decry the politician for being a radical, socialist, communist, and the like.
Yet at long last, New York City is emerging from the election. This means there will be less press conferences, less photo ops, and — hopefully — less labelling.
This will not only benefit New Yorkers who are undoubtedly tired of the same old name calling, but also politicians who need to rediscover their own beliefs and goals outside of the daily news cycle.
Clearly there has been a progressive shift within the Democratic party, but what exactly will this look like? Will establishment City Council members form alliances with their incoming peers, or will battle lines be drawn between the new and the old guard? Does progressivism come at the cost of building and development, or will the two go hand in hand?
These questions and many more remain unresolved, yet their answers will be even harder to determine if the city’s politicians, media outlets, and citizens continue the practice of nonstop labelling.
Before we can return to calling people progressive, moderate, or radical, we must reestablish a baseline for what these terms encompass.
Perhaps this is a naive sentiment, and it is easy to cynically assume that the same constant and inaccurate name calling will continue without pause. Yet New York is currently at a unique political juncture, with a new mayor and fresh-faced City Council class coming into office.
Before we start labelling one as a moderate and the other as progressive, let’s see how our representatives perform in these new roles, who they ally with, and what — if anything — they can accomplish.