Well this campaign season just keeps getting better. Last night the Republicans had the latest in a series of presidential debates. I personally thought the top three contenders – Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Donald Trump – all acquitted themselves very well. Even Donald Trump, as off-point and rambling in his answers as ever, was basically coherent. Jeb Bush continues to look like a hostage forced to run for the presidency against his will. Chris Christie did well even if he completely dissembled about his record and once again complained about people debating during a debate. John Kasich is still permitted to participate in these things for reasons that elude most sane people. And Ben Carson, well, Dr. Carson is an extraordinarily humble man of great character, and I’ll leave it at that because I don’t want to say anything too mean.
There were some fierce exchanges, and perhaps the biggest moment of the night occurred Ted Cruz deftly handled the question about his status as a natural born citizen. He even got Trump to concede that he only went there because of Cruz’s standing in the polls. It was beautiful to see the crowd actually boo Trump as he tried to continue down this foolish path.
The other Trump-Cruz exchange arguably did not go quite as well for Cruz. On the stump Cruz had dissed the Donald for upholding “New York values,” a line of attack he continued during the debate. Cruz concluded with the line “Not a lot of conservatives come out of Manhattan,” a line which was actually a subtle jab at Trump’s remark that “not a lot of Evangelicals come out of Cuba.” Trump hit back, going to the 9/11 well to talk about how New Yorkers stood tall and united after the terrorist attacks. It was certainly a well-crafted response by Donald, and it caught Cruz a bit off guard. Video of the exchange can be seen at this link.
Now there’s been some back-and-forth in the social media world about Cruz’s “New York values” line of attack – a phrase, by the way, uttered by Trump himself a few years ago. Many New Yorkers are supposedly upset by the remarks as evidenced by this Daily News front page (link does not go to the Daily News*).
*I remarked on twitter that if the New York Times had a lobotomy, the result would be the New York Daily News. I was in error. The Daily News is the result of the New York Times getting drunk.
Now, I happen to be a native New Yorker, born and raised in the mean streets of Queens. I attended high school in Manhattan and worked there for a couple of years after college. My family still all live in New York. I loved New York, and still get a little weepy sometimes when I hear Frank Sinatra’s version of “New York, New York.” I remain loyal to my New York sports teams, particularly the Mets. Donald Trump was absolutely right about the spirit of New Yorkers, and their great resiliency. There is a great charm in New York bluntness. Having lived in several other large cities, and having regularly traveled throughout the country, I still think in many ways that New York is the greatest city in the country, especially if you are a certain age. The combination of arts, entertainments, business, food (the best food of any major city, or at least the city with the best diversity of good food), and just the general vibrancy of the city are unmatched. And even as Democratic as the city might be, there is a great working class charm to the outer boroughs where the residents are not so easily typecast. There is a reason New York City did not elect a Democratic mayor for two decades, and why the one who served for 12 years shortly before Giuliani (Ed Koch) was hardly a doctrinaire leftist.
All that being said, let me relay a statistic for you. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the abortion rate in 2010 for women aged 15-44 was 17.7 per 1,000 women in the country. New York’s rate was 35.3, second only to Delaware. No other state was in the thirties. I am willing to bet a small fortunate that the rate in the city was much higher than upstate.
Abortion rates of course don’t tell the whole story, though there is a definite correlation between high abortion rate states and “blue” states. There are demographic, economic and other factors at play in the statistic as well.
But let’s be clear about something. Ted Cruz was getting at something all of us understand in our hearts. There is a certain value set among urbanites and other people on the east coast that clashes with the values of folks in much of the rest of the country. Of course not everyone who happens to live in New York holds the same values as the urban elites, and even holding those values does not make you, ipso facto, a bad person. Believing in socialized medicine does not render you incapable of rising to the occasion in moments of great stress, or of helping in times of crisis. But when it comes to the world of politics, and in understanding the role of government, or in holding certain cultural values, New Yorkers and the like generally clash with the values and ideology held by the majority of Republicans, and definitely of conservatives. All the crocodile tears shed in the world will not change this stubborn fact. Even if you cringe at the hint of a suggestion of some kind of culture war, you have to acknowledge the difference in value sets. And no matter how much Donald Trump has pulled the wool over the eyes of many voters, his history and his actions show he’s from a different world (metaphorically speaking) than traditional conservatives. And that’s Ted Cruz’s point, and it’s a point that is absolutely correct.