Curtis Sliwa is New York City’s only hope for a real people’s mayor, but his campaign is also setting the standard for authentic populism nationwide. Every 2022 and 2024 Republican hopeful should follow his lead on the trail to taking back America.
Don’t sleep on NYC’s mayoral election, especially the June 22 primary. The two-man race on the Republican side features Sliwa, and that’s the only name that matters.
Several important lessons can be drawn from Sliwa’s campaign, even before a single vote is cast, because he’s polling well among a key demographic that overwhelmingly supported 2016 presidential candidate Donald Trump.
If Republican candidates in 2022 and 2024 think they can just ride a populist wave to victory on bumper sticker slogans like “Make America Great Again” or “America First,” they’re wrong; Hollow populism will backfire like it did in Georgia’s Senate elections earlier this year.
But even having the correct positions isn’t always enough. The candidate himself matters just as much. He must not only be an outsider, but it’s essential for his communication style to break through the gatekeepers in the press and social media.
Sliwa is best known for founding the Guardian Angels in 1979, which grew out of his precursor project, the anti-gang Magnificent 13. He still personifies the Angels, which has since gone international, but while his star power has risen as a radio talker, he’s still a man of the streets and the subway.
But can he also bypass and short-circuit the media’s control over narrative in order to reach the people directly? Just watch him.
Is Sliwa starting to remind you of his fellow New Yorker, President Trump? There are clear differences between the two, but both go to show that running in a Republican Party primary does not necessarily mean running as a Republican in a conventional sense.
It’s worth knowing more about Sliwa and how it pertains to authentic populism.
His NYC mayoral campaign rests upon his record of genuine public service, not a career in politics. His message is not new but credible, as the times have caught up with him, so his battle-ready stances against corruption, elitism, rampant crime, and overall social decay have people clamoring.
Rioters and looting leftists broke Sliwa's jaw last summer, so he literally can feel the pain so many business owners and other law-abiding Americans are feeling. Peruse further back into his youth, and you find he rescued people from a burning building while on a paper delivery route at age 16.
Leading by example, keeping his own skin in the game. . .These are qualities that are naturally rooted in true patriots, not utopian, woke leftists. For this reason, it should be all the more embarrassing to Republican voters that the Democrats compete so closely for the mantles of populism with standouts like Bernie Sanders and AOC, as inauthentic as they may be.
Sliwa’s platform also checks every box for a populist campaign, and they can largely be applied even at the national level.
Whether it’s a race for mayor or US senator, the leading themes or issues on a populist campaign will inevitably be at least a few of the following: anti-corruption, quality of life, fostering community, and of course economic reform. These all usually go hand-in-hand.
Sliwa kicked off his campaign promising to close down and investigate ThriveNYC, the $1 billion mental-health initiative from the incumbent mayor’s wife.
Where’s all the people’s money gone? It’s a scandal in a city with infrastructure overrun by homeless and violence.
Sliwa’s a regular subway rider, so he notices the unmentionable horrors that decimate New Yorkers’ quality of life on a daily basis. Covid-19 is not to blame for the subway being near empty, as Sliwa likes to point out while refusing to be muzzled by the mask mandate.
Returning power to the people and giving communities the chance to make a comeback are other remarkable aspects of Sliwa’s campaign. One of his priorities is to ban kill shelters for the city’s unowned dogs and cats. He keeps 15 cats at his apartment, so again, he leads by example.
He plans to visit every police precinct to shake the hands of every law enforcement officer, when morale is very low following the Defund the Police movement. He would re-fund the police by removing the property tax loopholes for institutions like Columbia University and New York University, which use their wealth to undermine the city with proliferation of leftist agendas.
Schools, including charters, will be incentivized to provide more vocational training that meet the labor demands of the modern economy. He would bring back bail, empowering judges so that criminals aren’t so recklessly released.
Sliwa loves good old-fashioned fun. too. The city’s nightlife will be protected so that the clubs, bars, theaters, and concert halls have no worry of forced closure.
The New York Young Republican Club endorsed Sliwa for all that and for his “classic, New Yorker chutzpah.”
America needs more chutzpah, too, grounded in love for this country and its people, its families, and communities.
If the GOP learns enough from Sliwa, then there will be no stopping the populist revival of true American values in 2022 and 2024.
Gavin Wax is the 74th president of the New York Young Republican Club, chairman of the Association of Young Republican Clubs, digital director of the Young Republican National Federation, an Ambassador for Turning Point USA, and an associate fellow at the London Center for Policy Research. You can follow him on Twitter at @GavinWax. Read Gavin Wax's Reports — More Here.
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