Primary Day: A Test for de Blasio
by Anthony Stasi
Sep 10, 2014 | 13343 views | 0 0 comments | 702 702 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mayor Bill de Blasio is popular in New York City, despite what grumblings may exist in polls. If the mayoral election were held today, with the same candidates, he would again be elected in a landslide.

He is a progressive politician in a progressive city. He maintains a likability that many politicians cannot achieve. But how long are his coat tails? Can de Blasio get other people elected?

This comes out in print a day after the primary in New York City, but the race between incumbent State Senator Tony Avella and former Comptroller John Liu will be a good illustration of how people listen to the mayor.

An Avella win, taking nothing from the independently styled senator, will signal that de Blasio has considerably more reach in the city than just the activist crowd. It will signal that there is a trust factor that the mayor has achieved in the city’s most centrist of districts.

There is more to this primary race than just the mayor’s endorsement of a candidate, but because the race should be close and the stakes high, it matters to de Blasio. Michael Bloomberg loved Bayside. An endorsement from Bloomberg in this neck of the woods is valuable. As for a de Blasio endorsement, this is an interesting test.

The Pope Francis Effect on American Culture

Both sides of the political aisle like to claim religion for political gain. The religious right has been successful in this area, but there are those who have grabbed onto Pope Francis’s message and claim it validates parts of an agenda as well.

What this does, however, is water down the importance of what this pope is trying to do when he embraces social media and speaks out about world conditions. Francis is not a political figure, and that might be exactly why he is so welcome around the world right now.

While society is not necessarily growing more secular, it is a growing more skeptical of organized religion. This is understandable, especially since much of organized religion operated with a degree of secrecy for so long.

Francis seems to not like the mysterious element of theology, and instead embraces the public aspect of his office. This is important since the evils of the world, especially those getting traction in the Middle East, are also enthusiastic about public spectacle.

Francis, by focusing his Church (and more importantly his message) on poverty and peace is reaching more people than those who are trying to dismantle peace. He is a larger force than ISIS or other groups because what he is saying is right, and he is doing it on outlets like Google Hangout, where he can talk to people of all backgrounds. This is an important contrast to those groups perpetuating violence and who advocate one way of thinking at all costs.

Francis has tapped into something valuable in how he approaches his work; he avoids being a “Catholic-only” priest. Much the way so many people listen to ministers like Joel Osteen and are not evangelical Christians, Francis has broken through the stained-glass ceiling of his own faith.

Maybe conservatives and liberals can claim what he says in order to shape their political message, but the real success that this man has relied on is his ability to be above politics and above exclusivity.

Even though religion is met with doubt, the fact is that politics is met with even more doubt in the United States. This puts religious leaders in a position to be voices for peace and social justice…and having a Twitter account doesn’t hurt either.
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