From a few years ago spanning back to, oh, always, it would have been unthinkable for New York City to vie for a major national event by offering to hold it in Brooklyn. But in a formal bid announced Friday, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is seeking to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention at downtown Brooklyn's Barclays Center.
"The shift to Barclays Center from Madison Square Garden, a Manhattan institution that has played host to four Democratic conventions and one Republican, would be freighted with symbolism," writes The New York Times' Michael M. Grynbaum. "Bill Clinton, who ushered in a new era of Democratic centrism, was nominated for president in 1992 after a dramatic entrance into the Garden's cavernous arena."
But Clinton-era Democratic centrism is as out-of-vogue as ironic trucker hats in Williamsburg. Perhaps a nominating convention in Brooklyn "would be a way to underscore any leftward tilt in the Democratic Party's platform," Grynbaum suggests.
The Barclays Center, is should be noted, is part of the controversial Atlantic Yards redevelopment project. Unlike the more organic growth in other parts of Brooklyn, this redevelopment involved the city coming in with eminent domain statutes blazing and totally gutting an entire neighborhood. The area around the Barclays center—which de Blasio describes in his bid letter as "one of the most dynamic and resurgent neighborhoods" in the city—is now a cesspool of chain stores and restaurants surrounded by some of the worst traffic I've ever encountered in all of New York City.
"The progressive spirit of New York City has never been stronger or more vibrant that it is today," de Blasio wrote in his letter to the Democratic National Committee (DNC). New York was among 15 cities invited by the DNC to submit convention bids.
The recent trend in Democrat and Republican nominating conventions has been to hold them in swing state cities, the better to rally the soccer moms. But there are a few reasons why Democrats could ultimately choose Brooklyn for 2016—the most obvious being that the ostensible frontrunner for the Democrats, Hillary Clinton, has made NYC her adopted home.
Also, without another candidate like circa-2008 Barack Obama, Democrats will face a typically tough time getting young voters motivated (unless the Republicans go full-tilt so-con, that is). Though today's 20-somethings may skew liberal, they don't necessarily skew Democrat. So building a little millennial fervor at the convention, if possible, couldn't hurt. And it seems a whole lot more possible to attract young liberal types in and to New York City than, say, middle America.
Anyway, for a fun take on all this see The Washington Post, where Philip Bump reports live from an imaginary future DNC convention in Brooklyn. "We strongly recommend that you not leave the greater Barclays/Bloomberg/Uber area," our future tour guide cautions. "It's not dangerous, as such, but outside of the immediate vicinity we will not be able to provide you with the proper trigger warnings for your excursions."