Andrew Yang wants to be the mayor of New York City. It’s an attractive job opportunity given that the current mayor, Bill de Blasio, is so awful that anyone in the city over the age of 5 would do a better job than he has. The problem, however, is that Yang is not in the city. Instead, Yang and his family have been residing in the tony Hudson Valley town of New Paltz. He explained why that is to the New York Times, and it’s a doozy.
“We live in a two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan. And so, like, can you imagine trying to have two kids on virtual school in a two-bedroom apartment, and then trying to do work yourself?” Yang asked.
Well, yes, Mr. Yang, I can imagine that. In fact, I don’t have to imagine it because I am living it. Even as I write this, my son is in his room in my two-bedroom apartment doing virtual school while I work. This has been a reality for millions of New Yorkers for almost a year now. And most of us aren’t even millionaires. Yang can’t imagine it? He cannot conjure in his mind what it is like to live under the current conditions in New York City? And he wants to be my mayor?
Beyond Yang’s degree of tone-deafness, his comment also makes New Yorkers question his basic knowledge of Gotham. His two-bedroom in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood might not be spacious enough for his current needs, but if space is the issue, there is no reason to flee to New Paltz. Someone might want to tell him about the outer boroughs.
Parts of Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx have stand-alone homes and breezy backyards. In Staten Island, there are so many deer that the city has a Deer Impact Management Plan. It also has some of the finest pizza in all the land. The point is that if space is Yang’s hang-up, New York City offers a ton of options. What New York City does not offer, however, is indoor dining or movies. For those, one must go to a place we refer to as Upstate, which is actually the entirety of the rest of New York.
In a city that produced both de Blasio and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Yang might wind up being the most rational and reasonable electable candidate, notwithstanding his goofy universal basic income proposals. Former Democratic Rep. Max Rose, something of a moderate who ran ads featuring himself with Donald Trump, has declined to run, leaving the centrist lane open. But this is not a good start for Yang. Telling people you want to govern the city but can’t imagine living there sounds like something someone from Jersey would say.
Yang is right though that conditions in America’s largest city right now are pretty horrible. That’s one reason why it’s losing residents faster than a gun shot victim loses blood — and it also has near-record numbers of those. Many of the people leaving are moving to Florida, which is weird since most people in the media think the Sunshine State’s governor, Ron DeSantis, is the living embodiment of evil.
If Yang wants to reside in Gracie Mansion, he can’t hide out in New Paltz while the city suffers. He has to be here with us. He has to be able not just to imagine but to experience the brutal effect that lockdowns are having on our communities.
Andrew Yang has a shot, but he has to step up his game. Be our neighbor, feel our pain, Mr. Yang. You can’t lead New York City from New Paltz.