All Empire State Presidential Election & Its National Referendum
Don’t you see the rest of the country looks upon New York like we’re left-wing, communist, Jewish, homosexual pornographers? I think of us that way sometimes and I live here.
–Woody Allen as Alvy Singer, Annie Hall
For only the fourth time in American history, two presidential candidates will hail from the same state; not necessarily as natives, as Hillary Rodham Clinton is from Illinois while Donald Trump is from Queens, but nonetheless they share both the sheen and stank of the Empire State, specifically New York City. Both have their base of campaign operations in the big town, Clinton in Brooklyn and Trump in Manhattan. Coincidently both are the most untrustworthy and disliked duo of candidates in American polling history. After all, when considering their nearly 100 percent name recognition—both a blessing and a curse of our culture’s ongoing obsession with celebrity—it is quite obvious what the rest of the nation feels about the world’s largest, richest, most exciting and, quite frankly best city.
They hate it.
But make no mistake; the hate is misguided, as is the case with most “hates”. First there is complete puzzlement. Those who do not like cities hate city-dwellers, because they cannot understand how someone could live in one for a myriad of reasons, but even those who live in other cities like Chicago, Houston, L.A. and Boston hate New York. This, of course, is simple “penis envy” of the highest most Freudian order, but hate nonetheless.
Having grown up in the Bronx, which should read as “barely survived with all of my teeth” and nurturing a life-long, preternatural, unworldly romance with Manhattan, it is both vexing and interesting to me the reaction most people have to it. I enjoy regaling fellow New Yorkers with the discussion I repeatedly had with the good citizens of Jerusalem when I visited Israel in 1996. It seems every conversation would inevitably turn to the question of my origin. When I would tell them New York (remember these are people living in a perpetual 6,000-year-old war zone), they would say, “Wow, it’s pretty dangerous there, huh?”
For those who do not or have never lived in or around NYC, it is hard to fathom Donald Trump. Clinton is weird, because although she was a senator here for eight years and thus has lived here for 16 years now, she is a carpetbagger, the way, say, Mick Jagger was in the late 1970s; all those songs about New Yawk from the jet-set British perspective; both envy and fear and titillation and finally condemnation. To wit: “Love and hope and sex and dreams/Are still surviving on the street/Look at me, I’m in tatters/I’m a shattered.”
However Trump is silly with New Yawk. There isn’t five seconds of anything Trump says whether in interviews, rallies or on the stump that doesn’t reek of it. The main reason that Trump survives what other candidates have never survived is his deep-seeded New Yawk-ese. If Trump unleashed half his crazy shit with a Southern accent it would be horrifying, like listening to William Jennings Bryant after six whiskies. But coming from a Baby Boomer with that hair and those suits and that accent, it is defiance. And because Trump has attached his hyperbole to this New Yawk attitude and shifted all this nonsense to the nifty excuse of not being “politically correct”, what is normally seen as hickish now appears ballsy.
Also, Trump represents everything people assume they hate about New Yawk; he is a boisterous braggart, shoot-from-the-hip ball-buster, who would as soon as spend 60 seconds berating you in the crudest way than spend another 30 seconds actually considering your right to exist. He is a know-it-all, who likely knows next to nothing, but never gets called on it, because he has cash and fame and builds big things bigger than your things and so go fuck yourself. In essence, Trump is saying what New Yawk says, “I am bigger and better and make all the money and have all the history and everything worth a shit begins here, so suck it if you don’t like it, because this is a country filled with broke famers and religious idiots without us.”
This is how Hillary Clinton becomes New Yawk with her “gets to make her own rules” thing, which is true, or used to be true about New Yorkers. In the late 1980s into the early 1990s I could do anything I wanted in NYC; especially in a car. Throughout every borough, I broke about 250 laws, most of it in front of cops, and even had my car stolen, broken into, jacked, and suffered all manner of street crimes and felt it somehow came out in the wash. Here’s where most columnists would say they were not proud of this achievement. You see, I am. Nowadays the town is in more of a lock-down mode, which has resulted in far less street crime than any city on the planet, but you would never know this, especially when the secretary of state has been accused of everything plus murder by her opponents, and really, the FBI.
Donald Trump, of course, runs roughshod over everything decent Americans hold dear; which is another underappreciated New Yawk trait. You see, while other cities around the globe there is a reverence for the past. New York, as columnist/novelist/New Yawker Pete Hamill once mused, “…buries its past with a detached and cruel apathy”. If it is not moving forward or “worth” anything to the “now”, it goes, fast. When you live around here and you live with that concussive, almost shocking realization that everything is expendable and nothing is sacred, you get Donald Trump and you certainly get Hillary Clinton.
It just seems like the rest of the country doesn’t. Big time.
Six out of 10 Americans think these New Yawkers are shit. And this makes sense to me. And since neither has any intention of curbing this abhorrence, I should think it will continue until January 2017, when one of these New Yawkers, carpetbagger or born-and-bred, will be moving to D.C.
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James Campion is the Managing Editor of The Reality Check News & Information Desk and the author of “Deep Tank Jersey”, “Fear No Art”, “Trailing Jesus”, “Midnight For Cinderella” and “Y”. and his new book, “Shout It Out Loud—The Story of KISS’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon”.