I Happen to Like New York. Progressives Hate It.



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In his classic Broadway tune, “I Happen to Like New York,” Cole Porter wrote:

“I happen to like New York, I happen to like this town
 I like the city air, I like to drink of it
 The more I see New York, the more I think of it
 I like the sight and the sound and even the stink of it”

Porter’s playful ode to the enduring appeal of New York City premiered in the Broadway show The New Yorkers in 1930, at the end of the booming development of New York in the roaring twenties and the beginning of the Great Depression. It became a classic of the American songbook, recorded by everyone from Judy Garland to Bobby Short.

As the song’s history reminds us, New Yorkers are among the most resilient people on this planet. Our city indeed got through the Great Depression, 9/11, the financial crisis, COVID-19, and countless other challenges. Our ability to bounce back is remarkable, but we need relief from the rampant crime, decreasing quality of life, and high cost of living that are shoving taxpayers out in droves. The lawlessness forced on us by progressive politicians in Albany and the City Council has permeated every aspect of daily life in this city. 

Porter’s brief and breezy Broadway tune also alludes to New York’s singular popularity as a destination for immigrants and tourists:

“I like to go to Battery Park and watch those liners moving in
I often ask myself, ‘Why should it be
That they should come from far across the sea?’
I suppose it’s because they all agree with me
They happen to like New York”

The deep, stubborn love of New York City in Porter’s lyrics still exists for so many of us, despite the city’s recent decline.

Tourism is lagging as New York regains its reputation from decades past for being dangerous. Broadway still hasn’t recovered from the pandemic. Times Square foot traffic is still down compared to before the pandemic. Felony assault is no crowd pleaser, with machete attacks making international news while tourists and theatergoers have been largely replaced by illegal immigrants. This is nothing like the legal immigration that allowed immigrants to build New York in Porter’s day.

But people from all over the world still want to visit and live here. Our restaurants, museums, commerce, public transit, and cultural scene have been the envy of the world for generations. And they can be, once again, if we govern with one principle: If we don’t have public safety, we don’t have anything. 

No amount of funding or planning for anything will ever matter if we don’t have a safe city. To bring the city that never sleeps roaring back, it’s time for a curtain call on lawlessness. It’s not as though we don’t know how to do it. Thanks to policies like broken windows, it’s been done before.

New York City has always represented the best of everything. But the disdain of progressives for the traditional excellence of this city has made it very difficult for middle-class taxpayers to live here.

Unlike Mr. Porter and me, the radical progressives whose policies have wrecked this city do not like New York. They are working to turn it into something unrecognizable. You don’t love a place you wish to fundamentally destroy.

Progressives show their hatred for our city by legalizing or even championing behaviors that erode society and degrade the human person, including prostitution, shoplifting, drug use, and vandalism. They’re doing all they can to take away the cars and trucks essential to a thriving city, disrupt commerce, promote rioting, let repeat violent criminals walk, do away with jails and police altogether, flood us with illegal migrants about whom nothing is known (except that they are dependent on the state) and replace NYC living with a daily third-world experience. This summer’s “stink of it” is a pungent bouquet of marijuana, urine and feces. 

Progressives know that Marxism needs to germinate in misery and can’t take root in a pleasant city of happy, successful people. That’s why their mission is to make this city and this country intolerable. That’s the atmosphere that can push large numbers of otherwise clear-headed voters to try a system that history has already proven a deadly failure. 

Like Mr. Porter, I happen to like New York. I lived in Florida for a few years before eagerly moving back to the Empire State. I’m often teased for moving in the wrong direction. But I’m far from an apologist for this city, as it has become unlivable for law-abiding citizens and will be beyond redemption if we don’t turn it around soon.

My wife and I visited Central Park last weekend for the first time in ages, before hitting PJ Clarke’s for outstanding oysters and cheeseburgers and catching a movie at one of the best theaters in the country, the AMC Lincoln Square IMAX. It was the kind of wonderful day, full of unique New York excellence, that reminds you why you pay so much to live here. But we weren’t at ease in the park or on the streets for a moment, being aware of the recent uptick in crime in the world-famous greenspace and all over the city. 

Even our traditional NYC liberal types, the sort of folks you might see with NPR tote bags with the NY Times sticking out, seem bewildered by the mayhem but can’t bear to cross party lines.

What can be done? If you live here and happen to like New York, get involved in helping Republican or common-sense Democratic candidates get elected in upcoming local election cycles. Apply the William F. Buckley standard and pick “the most right, viable candidate who could win.” Whether state legislative races or city races, both have a greater impact on our quality of life than the White House. Help with phone banking, attend a fundraiser, or volunteer to knock on doors for candidates who, like Cole Porter, happen to “love this burg.”

Kevin J. Ryan is a political and communications professional, writer and photographer in New York. He has worked for the New York City Council, numerous political campaigns, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, St. John’s University and more.



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