The climate is suddenly on everyone's mind again now that America has announced its intention to nail the Earth to a cross of coal. Both Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio have announced that even if the federal government isn't interested in climate change, New York is going to stay committed to keeping the sea from swallowing us. This is good! Today though, Mayor de Blasio went on The Brian Lehrer Show and told a caller to shove it when he suggested that the mayor could set an example for people by not driving an SUV motorcade to Park Slope every day. This is bad!
Appearing on the weekly "Ask The Mayor" segment on WNYC today, the mayor of course talked about President Trump pulling out of the Paris Accord and the ways the city is going to respond to it. De Blasio also, smartly, pointed out that "everyone in their own life has to change their own habits to start protecting the Earth," and that this goes beyond retrofitting buildings and reducing carbon emissions from the city.
But when a caller actually asked him to make a sacrifice by not driving a fleet of SUVs to a Park Slope gym five days a week (and leave them there idling), and also, smartly, pointed out that "one of the reasons we're in this climate crisis is that the average person sees elites not playing by the rules that elites seek to impose on everyone else," de Blasio suddenly waved away the idea of personal sacrifice as nothing but "an emotional appeal" and "bait."
Literally minutes after telling people to change their habits, de Blasio said his daily Park Slope trip "doesn't have anything to do with how we change the world," and that making a change in the world won't come from the "cheap symbolism" of a small sacrifice.
It's tempting to just fold this whole kerfluffle into the mayor's perceived problem with "optics," which the ol' Gothamist dot com has tested people about before and which is obviously what his press team would prefer. But unlike debates about, say, his on-topic question fetish, de Blasio smugly insisting that getting driven around in a fleet of hybrid SUVs is good actually blows a huge opportunity for, y'know, leadership. Unless of course there was some huge impact that everyone missed in City Hall and the World Trade Center shining some green lights last night.
The de Blasio from 5 minutes before he dismissed that caller is right, fighting climate change will take sacrifice and a view that encompasses the common good instead of your own selfish desires. As the outspoken liberal mayor of a big city who's devoted himself to being the Trump Resister, would it fucking kill the mayor to set an example for people and show them that you can live your life in an environmentally-friendly fashion?
No one is asking him to live in a yurt and wash all of his clothes by hand, or walk everywhere or to build a go-kart that's powered by his own sense of self-satisfaction. They are asking him to live up to his own ideals. And I don't mean by stunt riding the subway like the same mayor who also routinely flew a private jet to Bermuda every weekend. Unless there's some actual secret private Limousine Liberal Club that de Blasio is trying to gain entrance into through a combination of elitism and purposeful obliviousness, there's no reason a question like the one posed on Brian Lehrer shouldn't lead to at least a little self-reflection and a pledge to make a change, even if you think it's dumb. Or, put more succinctly:
It literally IS a popularity contest, you big dumbass.
— Tom Scocca (@tomscocca) June 2, 2017