power

Enough With the Dick Swinging

Photo: Michael Nagle/Win McNamee/Sean Rayford/Getty Images

I am so sick — one month into social distancing, two months too late for it to have averted disaster, three days into a curve beginning to flatten here in New York, 25,000 deaths from COVID-19, 17 million people onto unemployment rolls — of listening to men argue about which of them is more powerful. And no, it’s not just because they’re men. Women argue about it too; of course they do. Or would, if they had the kind of power in local, state, and federal government that men have, which they don’t, which is why there are so many guys arguing about which of them is the mightiest.

On Friday, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city’s schools would remain closed for the rest of the year. Three hours later, New York State’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, said de Blasio didn’t have the authority to do that, that the mayor could have an “opinion” about school closures but that the governor had the power. On Monday, de Blasio again insisted that he and the city’s schools chancellor had the authority to keep schools closed; on Monday night, Governor Cuomo told Chris Hayes that the state, not the city, has the authority. “I have 700 school districts in my state,” said Cuomo. “I have 400 mayors. I have 62 county executives. I understand every local official wants power over their jurisdiction …”

Cuomo obviously understands that, because he also wants power, and the tussling over the public presentation of who has more of it has occupied him and his metropolitan nemesis so much that these two have managed, in the midst of a global crisis, to send about everything from sheltering in place to closing playgrounds to wearing masks in public. This is all for reasons that apparently do not have anything to do with the actual merits of closing playgrounds or wearing masks or sheltering in place but rather with which one of them gets to make the rules and which one of them doesn’t.

Because while these guys worry about who communicated their authority to close schools to the other by message, the fates of 1.1 million students and their families and teachers and the janitors and cafeteria employees and crossing guards hang in the balance. Meanwhile, 50 Department of Education employees , 21 of them teachers. Seven hundred and fifty thousand New York City students are low-income, and more than 10 percent are homeless. Keeping schools closed is, by many measures, likely the best and only option in the midst of this crisis, but no one who is living with the consequences cares whether the mayor or the governor makes the decision; they just need to know what it is.

It’s not just these two Democratic guys in New York; theirs is a depressingly familiar version of the kind of vacuous power play that has obsessed our president, of the small hands and , perhaps since birth. The man who is driven to crow about measures of his might — his ratings, his ranking, his ability to and without reprisal — is also driven in these days of panic and pain to state his authority over others with authority. On Monday, giving one of his trademark meltdown press conferences, after which everyone pretends to be surprised by how melted down he was, he proclaimed that “when somebody’s the president of the United States, the authority is total” and that local governments “can’t do anything without the approval of the president of the United States.”

青青青国产在观免费2018This statement, of course, was incorrect, because Trump willfully refuses to learn how to do his job. But it is not so different, in substance, from the arguments being waged in my city and state by men who are, empirically speaking, far less ignorant about things in general but nonetheless appear similarly driven to prove their dominance.

青青青国产在观免费2018So Cuomo calls Trump and Trump calls governors who challenge him , and these men have media cockfights while people die. It’s not cute. It’s not funny. It’s not hot. It’s a travesty. And it tells us everything about power: how it’s distributed. How it’s communicated. How it’s understood. And how it is mismanaged to tragic and malignant effect. And I just want to say: Gentlemen, put your dicks away. No one wants to see them. No one cares to measure them or measure you by them. There are millions of people who are sick and scared and hungry and grieving and need some idea of what comes next. Don’t be those guys, guys.

Enough With the Dick Swinging