Democrat Bill de Blasio has won the race for New York Mayor with a landslide victory. But what makes this charismatic man so interesting even to foreigners like us?
Bill de Blasio
The making of
Since when has Swide been following American politics I hear you ask? Well, to be honest this is less so about politics and more so about personality. Though many of this Democrat’s policies ring true to Swide’s moral mission, if we can be said to have one, what makes us most interested in Bill de Blasio is his background and how he embodies both the American Dream and in particular an Italian’s American Dream.
Bill de Blasio was originally known as Warren Wilhelm Jr, baring his father’s Germanic ancestral name. Hi mother, on the other hand was a first generation Italian American, whose parents emigrated to the US from Benevento, in Southern Italy. De Blasio was raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts, by his mother’s side of the family. His father was a war veteran from the WWII and suffered greatly from post traumatic tress. His father took to drinking and eventually left the family, thus leaving Mrs de Blasio to fend for herself and her son and her family to look after the young boy. De Blasio’s familial ties lie firmly with his Italian ancestors, stating that the de Blasio family was “the bottom line”. The politician unusually decided to take his alliance one step further by changing his name completely in 1983 to Warren de Blasio-Wilhelm, and then in 2002 simply to Bill de Blasio.
Though his name changing in many ways can be considered a way for him to cementing his background as an Italian American, de Blasio is an archetypal Italian American. Though negative publicity and stereotyping for years pinned upon the Italian American the persona of the organized crime boss, the schemer or the crook, di Blasio is one of many Italian Americans to make a name for themselves in the US, both in politics, business and the arts.
After having established himself academically, with a B.A. from NYU and then a Masers of International Affairs from Columbia University and being awarded the Harry S Truman scholarship in 1981, this born and bred NYC Italian American entered into politics with the zeal associated with the activists in his mother country. With a close eye on environment, housing and education, de Blasio rose up the ranks of the Democrat party working in the Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Clinton Administration and then was campaign manager to Hilary successful United States Senate bid in 2000.
In 2001, de Blasio decided to run for the New york City Council Brooklyn district winning the first election with a 71%–17% majority, the second term in 2003, 72% of the vote and again in 2005, he won re-election to a third term with 83% of the vote.
As well as working up the ranks of city politics and establishing himself as one of the many successful Italian Americans of the last century, di Blasio also married activist and poet Chirlane McCray, who he met while working for the Dinkins administration. McCray is a public relations specialist, a poet and a black rights activist, having suffered bullying because of the colour of her skin in her childhood. McCray and de Blasio married in 1994 and have two children, Chiara and Dante, with conspicuously Italian names.
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