The Thing About 'New York Values'

After the latest GOP presidential debate, our New York-centric media is overly occupied with turning Ted Cruz’ “New York Values” verbal smackdown of Donald Trump into 'The Shot Heard Around The Five Boroughs.' But was Cruz really so far off, and is there really such a basis for outrage?

Conveniently lost from the subsequent noise is the fact that Cruz's “New York Values” hit is a rejoinder to Trump’s own “not a lot of Evangelicals come out of Cuba” faith and ethnic othering of Cruz (right down to the “just saying” at the end), an authenticity appeal to the hearts and minds of Republican primary voters in Iowa, South Carolina, and within the SEC Primary. Furthermore, Trump’s Cuban Evangelical hit was actually a precursor to his birther attack on Cruz.  

My standing to speak of these things comes, in part, from the fact that I was born and raised in Brooklyn, in pre-gentrified and pre-hipster-occupied Williamsburg (South Side), not too far from where the Schaefer brewery, the Domino Sugar plant and the old Navy Yard once proudly stood.

My former block is right between the Hewes Street and Marcy Avenue stops on the Broadway el (the boundary beyond which lies a historic Hasidic neighborhood), bookended by the old Commodore theater and your classic corner bodega. My former building now houses a small mosque where a Puerto Rican restaurant once stood.

My friends and loved ones that remain walk out those classic New York values that I grew up with and want to instill in my sons: of hard work and hustle, of rolling with life’s punches, of having thick skin, of a neighborly kindness that will literally give you the shirt off its back and the shoes off its feet, and of the sort of resiliency that the rest of the world saw in the wake of the atrocities of 9/11.

Yet from a political and media perspective, at least, the New York that many of us grew up in and cherish no longer exists and hasn’t for quite some time. Whereas there was once a greater tolerance of diverse views, New York has now twice elected a governor who told ideological opponents that they have no place in the state.

A once-beloved newspaper that was instrumental in my becoming bilingual at the age of 4 now routinely derides lawful gun owners and persons of faith, and desecrates the image of Lady Liberty in order to rehash its most famous cover and score a cheap point.

Within a generation the city went from Guiliani to DiBlasio.  The political class in Albany isn’t much better, having long banned mixed martial arts (MMA) in the state in order to appease its Big Labor paymasters.

It should also be noted that Trump boasts of doing business with many of these same politicians- and that, on occasion, he has shared their ideology and, yes, values. This framing of trump’s politics is no slight to the goodness and resiliency of New Yorkers everywhere, and is certainly a legitimate point to bring up in a debate.

It is true that Ronald Reagan twice carried the state, but those voters are long gone and still leaving in droves. In fact, it is expected that Florida will overtake New York as the third-largest Electoral College state after the 2020 census and reapportionment. Clearly, there is no small amount of New Yorkers that are fed up with the progressive policies and “values” cited by Cruz.

New York-based media, take note: retail outrage and thin skin definitely are NOT New York Values.

Tell the Truth 2016

Column 2016 Presidential Debates New York 2016 Presidential Ted Cruz Donald Trump
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