As the old saying goes, “Politics is the art of the possible.” For a long time in New York, it’s served the interests of a fortunate few to keep the scope of possibility narrowly restricted. If an idea advantaged the wealthy, it was “realistic,” while policies that would benefit the public somehow weren’t. But on Election Day, New Yorkers changed the rules and expanded the scope of what’s possible to include real, progressive solutions for the public good.
On Nov. 5, a new day dawned in New York politics as New Yorkers voted for a government that stands up for working people, not the 1 percent. Cutting across every demographic, in every neighborhood, a supermajority of voters chose to elect true progressives to every citywide office. Change is here.
In this new political environment, New York—both the city and the state—has the opportunity to pursue policies that will help working families achieve a brighter future for themselves and their children. Throughout the election season, Bill de Blasio promised to work with the state government to bring full-day pre-kindergarten to every 4-year-old and to create after-school programs for every middle schooler in New York City. With the state’s approval, the mayor-elect would pay for this much-needed program with a small tax on the city’s very wealthiest. Economists will tell you this is only common sense. This policy ensures that the people who benefit the most from the city’s opportunities do their fair share to keep those opportunities available for all New Yorkers.
For all of us elated over the new possibilities at hand, now is a time for well-earned celebration. But that does not mean our work is over. There are still those who’d prefer to keep the bounds of possibility as restricted as they’ve been for so long and maintain a status quo that leaves ordinary people to snatch like fish in a tank for whatever benefits trickle down. That’s why it’s vital for those of us who supported change on Election Day to keep it moving forward.
It’s not just about making sure that every child in New York has the opportunity to go to a high-quality, full-day pre-K and after-school programs—although that’s important. It’s also about letting Wall Street and the wealthiest know that they can’t keep rigging the system in their favor.
The week of Dec. 2, a broad coalition of community groups, activists, faith congregations, labor unions and social service providers will organize a series of actions to empower ordinary people to make their voices heard for a progressive agenda for all New Yorkers. These events will culminate in a mass rally on Thursday, Dec. 5 at 4:30 p.m. in Foley Square. Learn more at newdaynewyork.org and join your fellow New Yorkers to help build a New York that works for all of us.
Bertha Lewis is the president and founder of the Black Institute, and Billy Easton is the executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education.