Former Mayor Bill de Blasio has gone from eating pizza with a fork to chowing down on a huge helping of humble pie.
The city’s ex-leader admitted in a new article that it was his own fault that he wound up as one of the city’s most unpopular outgoing mayors — because he grew out of touch with average New Yorkers and failed to engage with the city’s “aggrieved residents.”
He even said that he’s become such an “expert” in “being unpopular” that he felt qualified to offer some advice to another floundering politician whose approval ratings are in the dumper — President Joe Biden.
“I fear Biden is making the same mistake,” as he made, de Blasio said. “He’s handling crucial problems as they arise, yet without illustrating to the public what a better America looks like.”
De Blasio — who is now living at a pricey Brooklyn hotel while his Park Slope home is renovated — made the out-of-character confession in an article published Tuesday morning in The Atlantic.
In the 920-word piece, the former mayor said he failed to present an “overarching vision for the future,” and that made him lose touch with the electorate.
“In 2017, I won my second term with two-thirds of the general-election vote. But by last year my popularity had tanked. Why?” de Blasio, who left office at the end of 2021, wrote. “I failed to give New Yorkers a clear sense of where I was taking them. I lost my connection with the people because I mistook real policy for real popularity.”
“I let a focus on individual initiatives, no matter how noble or substantive, distract me from offering an overarching vision for the future,” the former mayor explained.
In the part public letter to the president, part mea culpa, the Democratic former politician ascribed his unpopularity to being aloof while attempting to address key issues such as the Big Apple’s troubled public housing agency, dangerous and disorderly jails that he begrudgingly toured after a spate of inmate deaths, and police-community relations.
De Blasio posited that his approach as mayor stood in stark contrast to the one he adopted during the 2013 mayoral campaign, when he recalled learning how much Pre-K meant to “parents desperately trying to make ends meet for their families.”
Universal Pre-Kindergarten became de Blasio’s signature accomplishment during his eight years in office.
“I needed to engage with aggrieved residents of public housing, for example, the same as I did with those parents early on,” he wrote in the magazine. “I should have walked among them rather than just working for them behind closed doors. Voters need to know both what you’re up to and why you’re up to it. You have to help them feel your efforts.”
Though during the final end of his term de Blasio admitted to reporters that he often acted in an “off-putting” manner while responding to questions from the media, he rarely copped to missteps while serving as mayor.
De Blasio — who after leaving office with low approval ratings mulled a run for governor and for a Congressional seat before opting not to launch either campaigns — warned that the president may be heading down the same path he did.
Biden — whose approval rating among registered voters stands at 35%, according to a recent poll — has been working “behind the scenes” to address domestic and international crises while failing to publicly articulate a vision for a “better America,” de Blasio opined.
“Yes, Americans expect him to address innumerable daily issues and run an extensive bureaucracy. And I understand that behind the scenes, he’s keeping together the extraordinary coalition he built to support Ukraine,” he continued. “But that example illustrates a bigger point: Keeping things together, even in the midst of a crisis, isn’t the same as moving things forward.”
De Blasio then confessed he didn’t use his platform in an effective manner — and told Biden to use his much larger one to demonstrate that he “truly empathizes with everyday Americans.”
“As the mayor of New York City, I had one of the loudest megaphones in the country, and I failed to use it properly. Biden’s bully pulpit is a thousand times more powerful. He needs to use it to show that he truly empathizes with everyday Americans on the issues they care most about, such as inflation, public safety, and affordable health care,” he wrote.
“Biden still has a chance to do what I did not: present a clear, sharp message and repeat it incessantly.”