29
Sep

Norman Mailer’s 1969 Race for Mayor of New York City

Mr. Mailer…was perhaps the greatest writer since Winston Churchill to seek elective office. If that was not disqualification enough, he had also been convicted of stabbing one of his wives. He promised that, if elected, he would at least deliver the bad news couched in “elegant language.” But he also delivered sufficient offense to fill a devil’s dictionary of political incorrectness.

Even his three-word campaign slogan — a vulgarization of “No More Bull” — was unprintable.

“The difference between me and the other candidates,” Mr. Mailer said, “is that I’m no good and I can prove it.”

Mailer’s platform included the following:

New York City would be split off from the rest of New York State, and achieve independent statehood as the 51st State of the U.S. The campaign sought to free the city from the control of “upstate legislators who don’t care about the city but control our schools, police, housing, and money.”

All private cars would be banned from Manhattan Island. Buses and taxicabs would be permitted, with the number of cabs increased. Parking lots would be built outside Manhattan at strategic locations. A monorail, built around the circumference of Manhattan, would service these lots, stopping also at rail stations and water ferry terminals. A free bus and jitney service would operate in Midtown, the city’s most congested area. Publicly owned bicycles would be available to all at no cost.

The elimination of private cars from Manhattan Island would reduce pollution there by 60%. All vehicles and incinerators in the city would be required to have pollution control devices.

Local neighborhoods would know best how to control crime in their communities by employing policemen who have the respect of the community because they live there. The City-State would fund neighborhoods to administer their own crime prevention programs, and would aid them only if they so desired.

Murray Rothbard wrote in a 1969 issue of The Libertarian Forum:

Norman Mailer’s surprise entry into the Democratic primary for Mayor of New York City, to be held on June 17, provides the most refreshing libertarian political campaign in decades. Mailer has taken everyone by surprise by his platform as well as his sudden entry into the political ranks. The Mailer platform stems from one brilliantly penetrating overriding plank: the absolute decentralization of the swollen New York City bureaucracy into dozens of constituent neighborhood villages. This is the logic of the recent proposals for “decentralization” and “community control” brought to its consistent and ultimate conclusion: the turmoil and plight of our overblown and shattered urban government structures, most especially New York, are to be solved by smashing the urban governmental apparatus, and fragmenting it into a myriad of constituent fragments.

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