If nothing else, Donald Trump is a New Yorker. Born in Queens and now a high-rise real-estate tycoon who was regularly the subject of Daily News stories even before his aspirations for political office, Trump is a larger-than-life caricature of New Yorkness. He lives for the city.
That naked metropolitanism seems at odds with the current state of the Republican Party, of which Trump is now the nominee for president. The party’s appeal to coal miners and other blue-collar professions, and to a very specific sense of race and Americanness, emphasizes rural Americana as rightness and uses cities as a foil. That cities are diverse and generally more liberal than rural areas is the basis of their status as a punching bag for Republican campaigners. Whether it’s Senator Ted Cruz attacking “New York values” or Trump himself using fear about urban crime to galvanize voters, cities represent much of what Republicans claim to hate most.
Tuesday at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, a group of mayors from many of those big cities coordinated an attack on the anti-city rhetoric of Trump and the Republican Party in an endorsement of Hillary Clinton. At a press conference, Mitch Landrieu, the mayor of New Orleans and vice president of the United States Conference of Mayors, along with a small army of mayors of other cities, issued a challenge to Trump that his vision of violence and decline in America and its cities was “just flat-out wrong.”