To any reasonable observer, including and especially its own residents, New York City is a swirling vortex of greed, debauchery and sin. Over the past few days, Tea Party hero and Texas Senator Ted Cruz has correctly, if awkwardly and ham-fistedly, noted the hard reality of “New York values” in the course of criticizing his opponent (and perhaps the most famous New Yorker on the planet), Donald Trump. A spokesperson for a Cruz-supporting SuperPAC recently told reporters, “New York is home to many wonderful people and places, but the emphasis is more on money than morality, on self-aggrandizement than humility.” And during Thursday night’s GOP debate, Cruz added, “Everybody understands that the values in New York City are socially liberal and pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage. And focus on money and the media.”
And now, in an odd turn of events, New Yorkers have begun to stage something of a revolt. Congressman Peter King of New York State’s 2nd District told CNN, “Memo to Ted Cruz: New York Values are the heroes of 9/11; the cops who fight terror; and the people you ask for campaign donations. Go back under a rock.” Trump himself responded to Cruz last night by saying, in part, “We rebuilt downtown Manhattan, and everybody in the world watched, and everybody in the world loved New York and loved New Yorkers, and I have to tell you, that was a very insulting statement that Ted made.” Here, also, is the cover of today’s issue of the proudly populist New York Daily News:
(In an accompanying editorial, columnist Mike Lupica not only invokes the city’s response to 9/11 but also argues that Cruz’s comments were “as dumb and tone deaf as Jesse Jackson was calling the city ‘Hymietown.’”)
Cruz is not, of course, the perfect surrogate to deliver an anti-New-York-City message; he recently came under scrutiny for failing to report personal loans totaling over $1 million that were underwritten by Goldman Sachs and Citibank. He’s also received hundreds of thousands of dollars from wealthy New York City bankers, as The Intercept’s Jon Schwarz noted last night. Finally, as the Daily News highlights, Cruz was born in Canada (albeit to an American mother and a Canadian father).
But the candidate speaks an important truth: The people, culture, and government of New York City tend to privilege the pursuit of money over every other possible human endeavor. The raw nerves of New Yorkers, elite or otherwise, only prove his point.