“But you’re from New York City, how did you become a Republican?” It’s a question I hear fairly regularly since I moved from Brooklyn, New York to Idaho Falls. My answer is always the same, “It’s because I am from New York that I am a Republican.”
I was raised in the liberal utopia of New York City in the 1970s and 1980s. It was an era of an ever-expanding government, social programs and when the top federal income tax rate was 70 percent, the state income rate was 15 percent, city income tax (yes, I said city) was 5 percent and $1.5 billion in city debt. With taxes this high, people could not pay rent. Homeownership was out of reach because property taxes were an additional burden no family could afford. The wealthy had been driven out, and the middle class had lost their employers. All that remained were the poor and the working poor.
Each Democratic administration had no choice but to decimate the city’s workforce with firings. This was done in an attempt to keep New York City from falling into bankruptcy.
New York City fired 18,000 police officers, firemen and public safety workers. Welcome to fear city. An understaffed and underserviced city lead to crumbling infrastructure and increased crime. While losing 800,000 residents between 1971 and 1981, New York City experienced an increase in violent crime to 190,000 incidents a year, including 2,000 murders and 5,500 rapes. Without the ability to exercise their Second Amendment rights, New Yorkers were helpless. While the .44 Caliber Killer shot couples in the street, liberal Democrats on the city council debated whether or not the few remaining police could wear leather jackets because their appearance was perceived as too “paramilitary.”
As a child, I remember the smell of burning buildings as we played in the streets. This was the result of landlords’ electing to burn down the apartments they owned. Working-class tenants had become unemployed squatters. As property tax default threatened the owners, arson had become their only recourse. In reference to New York City, William F. Buckley once wrote in his book, “The Unmaking of a Mayor”: “The taxes are high and the means of collecting them are barbarous. Yet no matter how high the taxes soar, things somehow do not seem to improve.” People in New York City became more and more dependent on public assistance and federal handouts.
So it’s easy to be a Republican if you’re from New York City. All I had to do was to experience liberalism to see that taxation destroys prosperity, to know that personal responsibility wanes in a nanny state, to understand that lack of fiscal soundness indentures citizens and to realize that the middle class is not championed by Democratic policies that devoured the middle class in New York City. Two basic duties of government are promotion of fair economic growth and public safety. In my life experience in New York City, Democrats failed at both. That’s why I am a Republican from New York City.