IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Eric Adams is a threat to the Democratic Party

In the year Adams has been in the job, his relationship with the public has only devolved. 

New York City Mayor Eric Adams, apparently displeased with what he's positioned as a lack of media coverage of his positive accomplishments since taking office, has decided to take matters into his own hands by launching a subscription newsletter designed “to speak directly to the people of this city.” 

Perhaps someone should remind Adams that actions speak louder than words.

Perhaps someone should remind Adams that actions speak louder than words, and his often bewildering and sometimes harmful messages have indeed been heard loud and clear — hence coverage that is more often critical than not.

From praising an NYPD officer who filmed patrons exiting the venue of a Drake concert in Harlem to complaining about the influx of migrants to the city, Adams’ decisions certainly warrant fair criticism.

Let’s start here: At a time when Republicans are putting migrants from Texas on buses and dropping them off outside Vice President Kamala Harris’ home in Washington in freezing temperatures as a political stunt, it’s outright dangerous to create the impression that New York City is no longer a safe haven for people coming to this country for personal safety. It’s even more troublesome that it’s coming from a Democrat in a highly visible office.

Last weekend, Adams found himself inspecting the wall at the country’s southern border, despite being the mayor of a city in the northeast. To be fair, Adams does have a vested interest in issues of immigration, as thousands of migrants do continue to make New York City their home after crossing the border. But Adams wasn’t there to listen — he was there to talk.

“Our cities are being undermined,” Adams said to press in El Paso, Texas. “And we don’t deserve this. Migrants don’t deserve this. And the people who live in the cities don’t deserve this. We expect more from our national leaders to address this issue in a real way.” 

Adams took his moment in the spotlight at the border to say the city “cannot take more.”

Now is a precarious time for New York Democrats: Because of both redistricting and poor campaigning, the party lost an astonishing number of congressional seats — including one to Republican George Santos, whose many misdeeds and apparent lies have been well documented. Republicans have an uber-slim majority in the House, and there’s a real opportunity for Democrats to present a strong, united front in anticipation of winning control of all three branches of government in 2024. Which is precisely why leadership like Adams' feels like such a threat.

His addition to the party was rocky from the start. He had been a lackluster Brooklyn borough president, and there were very few loud and influential party voices clamoring for Adams to be mayor. There was deep skepticism among local Democrats when Adams took office, having won less than 31% in the first round of ranked choice voting and ultimately beating out a crowded field. But too many progressives canceled one another out, and Adams’ more centrist gambit paid off. And in the wake of the 2020 racial justice protests, electing the second Black mayor of New York City felt symbolic.

It wouldn’t be shocking if Adams had ambitions for higher office, despite the fact that the job he has is a historic dead end.

This didn’t seem to dissuade him. During his first week as mayor in January 2022, Adams said: “When a mayor has swagger, the city has swagger. We’ve allowed people to beat us down so much that all we did was wallow in Covid. We no longer believed this is a city of swagger. This is a city of resiliency.” Well, if you can believe it, swagger didn’t solve our problems, and in the year since he started the job, the public’s relationship with Adams has only devolved.

It wouldn’t be shocking if Adams had ambitions for higher office, despite the fact that the job he has is a historic dead end. But as we saw with Val Demings’ run for governor in Florida last year, a Black former cop did not inspire voters of color to turn out. So New Yorkers are stuck dealing with Adams in the present, while he makes things more difficult for his party’s future. 

Back in New York after his El Paso appearance, Adams delivered an address on women’s health, announcing some admittedly positive-sounding plans to expand abortion access and maternal health education through the Sexual Education Task Force. Unfortunately, he took a deadly serious topic and made it sound ridiculous.

“The woman body is just taboo,” he told the crowd at the news conference. “No one wants to talk about it. I think that moms tell their daughters not to talk about it. We keep it a secret. I’ll never forget when I was talking about a menopause-friendly environment in Brooklyn Borough Hall, and all the women came to me and said, please don’t mention that. Don’t talk about it. I mean, we can talk about erectile dysfunction but not clitoris stimulation. Something is wrong. Something is just wrong. And we just have to stop doing that.”

He also said, “We would have a lot more research and care options for women’s health if we weren’t so afraid of saying the word ‘vagina.'” He proceeded to say the word “vagina” many times. On the heels of an election in which abortion and access to reproductive care were among the most important issues to voters, people are looking for a steady hand to guide them through this terrifying time. It’s hard not to wonder how the second- and third- place finishers in the mayor's race, Kathryn Garcia and Maya Wiley, respectively, would handle this moment in tandem with Attorney General Letitia James and Gov. Kathy Hochul.  

Don’t get me wrong: Destigmatizing and speaking openly about women’s health care and the female body is a noble goal, and one I wholeheartedly support. But Adams somehow manages to make us extremely uncomfortable talking about making women more comfortable — not just with his rhetoric, but with his actions. As a former police officer, he looks to increased law enforcement as the answer to everything, and his decision to flood the subways with officers flies in the face of safety for women and their children. He cut $200 million from the city's school budget, weakening an already perilous system for families. After hearing his remarks, I, as a woman living in his city, do not think Mayor Adams will become my menstrual confidant. 

Despite how much he loves to talk, Adams needs to figure out a way to communicate his actual perspectives on issues: Whether that’s in a bespoke newsletter, on Twitter or in an impromptu news conference on the subway, the stakes are simply too high to be cavalier.