Last week RUDY GIULIANI started making the tentative first steps toward a presidential run by filing some papers and shaking some hands and whatever else is involved with such an undertaking. Taking into account the high social & coolness costs that will come from outing myself as someone who’d consider voting for, and at times actually has voted for, members of the Republican Party, let me tell you why this particular politician comes as close to my own limited-government, slaughter-all-sacred-cows politics as any other on the hustings, and why the Giuliani that I know & admire – the one whom I hope would keep the courage of his convictions even in a Republican primary - is my de facto pick no matter who else runs (Milton Friedman just died, unfortunately).
1. He did the impossible. Anyone but the most hardened, contrarian New Yorker is still stunned by the turnabout in that city’s fortunes under Giuliani’s watch. I have spent lots of time in Manhattan the past half-decade, and to walk safely at 2am on streets where it was a sure bet I’d be mugged only 12 years ago is really something else. The entire city is just bursting with life and energy, as it always has, but now it’s a place where one can pursue normal life safely and sanely & with minimal fear of violence. Oh, Manhattan is too sanitized for you now? Hello, Brooklyn – even neighborhoods like Bushwick are sprouting pockets of new immigrant-led businesses that have a great chance of success in the new environment. Remember folks, “a rising tide lifts all boats”, and I’ve yet to meet a single New Yorker who’s actually left town because it was too safe or too boring – only too expensive. That’s because demand is back (for great reason), and supply is not. You remember that whole equation, right? I have no doubt the liberal and cranky citizenry of NY would elect Giuliani “El Commandante for Life” if given the chance, based on what his regime did for New York in 8 short years.
2. He’s a bulwark against religious-based, reactionary know-nothing social policy. Giuliani is aggressively pro-choice, pro-stem cell research (of all kinds), and pro-gay marriage. He moved in with a gay couple after his divorce, and made no apologies to his constituents or to the Republican party for having done so. Perhaps by force of personality alone, will he be the one to wipe the slate clean & significantly reduce the impact of religion and imposed morality in the United States? One can dream.
3. He understands why our childrens is not learning. Giuliani threw down the gauntlet against the professional educrats and the unionized interest-group lobbies in New York City that made that city’s schools among the worst in the country. The results were staggering, and his adversaries – who normally win every battle they fight in big cities like New York – were left with their tired 1970s ideas & little else. Meanwhile, public school in NY is actually an option for parents again, rather than moving away to the ‘burbs or Jersey, or never moving to New York City in the first place.. the way it was in the 70s when the town was losing population like crazy and barely gaining any.
4. He’s moderately libertarian – just enough to stay electable. Sure, I’d prefer a more smash-the-state type who’d legalize drugs and privatize just about everything, but almost no one else would, so let’s go with Giuliani. He’s as close to it as any major political figure as I’ve seen in a while, and yet he’ll demolish some libertarian sacred cows as well – like gun control ,which he’s in favor of (me, I’m not sure – I was, until crime dropped dramatically in the US without any major gun control legislation being enacted). He’s the sort of guy who might be able to get school vouchers passed and really give parents a decent choice and low-income children a true chance at a great education, no matter which neighborhood they live in.
5. He’ll make the goddamn trains run on time. I have no idea how Rudy G will stage-manage the Iraq disaster, but I can bet that no matter what his (or my) previous position on the necessity for a battle there, he won’t stand pat and let it wash over him like our current, supposedly “management-savvy” president. All the things the media loves about this guy – “he was such a beacon of hope during 9/11’s darkest days” blah blah blah – barely matter to me. What I care about is – are incompetents going to be fired? Will corrupt institutions be abolished and/or gutted? Will those in government who reflexively apologize for stupidity, sloth and ignorance be shown the door? The fella or the lass who answers yes to all of these questions is the fella or lass I’m voting for, and if you read Fred Siegel’s great “The Prince of the City: Giuliani, New York and the Genius of American Life”, you get an excellent (and page-turning) overview into why Rudy Giuliani is definitely that fella.
It’s a long way until November 2008, folks, and a lot will happen between now and then. Will Rudy keep his backbone - and his legendary temper? Odds are he will not. Will he win the primary and be the guy the country unites around? I highly doubt it. Until then, hopefully I’ve given you some excellent reasons to think about giving him your nod in 24 months. Let’s you and me check back in with each other then, OK?