Scientists struggle to understand why perfectly healthy whales beach themselves. It's among the stranger phenomena in nature, and it seems to be catching on among humans.
One can imagine the question being asked of New York in the not-too-distant future: Why did a city with such a storied economic, social and public safety renaissance suddenly turn against the policies that saved it from ruin 20 years ago?
With the election Wednesday of Progressive Caucus stalwart Melissa Mark-Viverito as City Council speaker, the stage is set for the most dramatic ideological reversal in city politics since Rudy Giuliani took over from David Dinkins in 1994. But these stark political shifts came under very different circumstances. When Giuliani became mayor, the city was on its knees. With more than 2,000 homicides per year, New York was being called ungovernable.
This time -- regardless of what the political left says -- New York is a well-functioning city. Indeed, with its historically low crime rate and historically high tourism, it's arguably the smoothest-running big city in America.
Under Giuliani, there was also an ideological balance with a mostly Democratic City Council. Under Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Mark-Viverito, who is in debt to de Blasio for her job, there will be no philosophical check.
Basketball fans are familiar with a play called the alley-oop. It's where one player tosses the ball above the basketball rim and a second player comes crashing down to slam the ball home. That's pretty much the dynamic we're likely to see in the city under de Blasio and Mark-Viverito. She'll run "progressive" bills, like non-citizen voting, through the council and de Blasio will slam them home by signing them into law.
There are two story lines for how New York finds itself in this position. Progressives say their time has come. But an alternative viewpoint is more likely. With their city stabilized, city Democrats felt no need to reach outside their party again. They were going to overwhelmingly elect whichever Democrat made it out of the primary.
Three percent of registered voters made de Blasio that nominee. I wonder what percentage of whales drive themselves to shore.
William F. B. O'Reilly is a columnist and a Republican political consultant.