Something Mayor de Blasio, American Idol — and All of Us — Have in Common

Written by Steve Pauwels on May 22, 2019

It likely wasn’t the reception he’d expected; certainly not the one he’d wanted.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last week he’s throwing his hat into the ring for president of the United States — joining 737 other Democrats eyeballing that 2020 perch.

Start spreading the news/He’s running today …

The revelation from the Big Apple’s chief Leftist wasn’t exactly greeted with widespread confetti showers and huzzahs — quite the opposite, in fact. Bewilderment? Check. Derision? Roger that. Laughter? Indeed.

From the Daily News

Throngs of protesters waited for de Blasio … “If you can’t run the city, you can’t run the country,” shouted a phalanx of … the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.

… [A] group of left-leaning protesters were also on site … “He claims to be a progressive, but what we’re seeing right now is regressive policies,” said Rev. David Brawley of Brooklyn … “Either do the job, or give up the job. Step up, or step down.” …

“I’m shocked he believes that so many people in the country will actually vote for him,” said … [a Manhattan] interior design supplier. “He’s completely out of touch. The ego and conceitedness it takes … is unbelievable.” Source: NyDaily News

The Associated Press piled on: “A recent Quinnipiac University poll found 76% of New York City voters say they believe he shouldn’t run…

‘De Blasio for President? ‘Nah,’ read one recent New York Times headline summing up the city’s reaction to his possible candidacy.” — Source: OneNewsNow

Having heard reports of his dismal showing in New Hampshire earlier this year — six audience members — I’d presumed Hizzoner had bailed on any White House 2020 aspirations. Apparently, I was mistaken. — Source: NYPost

“What is he thinking?” I queried myself as news surfaced of his just-launched campaign. And then I remembered American Idol

Perhaps more than anything I’ve witnessed, that iconic, once runaway prime-time television phenom demonstrated to me humanity’s bottomless capacity for self-delusion. During the singing competition’s earliest seasons, initial weeks focused mercilessly on woebegone, pathetically clueless performers, humiliating themselves before the judges and millions of viewers as they crooned tunelessly, squeakily, discordantly and/or howlingly. Voluntarily. In front of TV cameras. Audio turned way up.

Eventually, AI trimmed back these gratuitously debasing segments, majoring instead on contestants who could actually carry a melody with some dignity; and I was glad of it. Those sequences were cruel, taking advantage of often socially underdeveloped, wanna-be hitmakers who plainly lacked the objectivity to recognize the music game wasn’t their thing. They also, clearly, lacked loved ones who valued them enough to say, “Please. Stop.”

Or perhaps they weren’t willing to listen when others did speak up?

This relative handful of American Idol broadcasts confirmed for me that multitudes, when sufficiently motivated, can persuade themselves of whatever it is they want to believe — and that too many are surrounded by individuals who’ll remain enablingly silent, allowing them to do it; often to their crushingly abashing personal detriment.

Do you see the de Blasio/American Idol nexus? A New York Magazine headline captures it: “Who hasn’t told Bill de Blasio that he shouldn’t run for president?” — Source: NYDailyNews

Claws-on-a-chalkboard screechers convince themselves, “A dazzling vocalist’s career awaits me!” Forty-five-year old, pot-bellied dudes clamp a ball cap backwards on their balding pates and admire themselves in the mirror. Women with no business wearing those unflattering black yoga pants in public ostentatiously insist on doing precisely that. And a radical socialist pol with a dubious track record in the city he manages — and whose prospects for ascending to Chief Executive of the world’s leading superpower hover around zero — somehow dupingly envisages himself vanquisher of Trump.

I’ll paraphrase that New York Magazine banner: Who hasn’t told all these folks they shouldn’t … [fill-in-the-blank]?  — Source: NYMag

A suggestion for de Blasio: poke around Gracie Mansion or Gotham’s City Hall and see if you can find a Bible somewhere. I understand it could entail quite a search, but keep at it — a copy of the Good Book must be gathering dust someplace nearby. Flip over to Proverbs chapter twenty-seven: “Open rebuke is better/Than love carefully concealed. /Faithful are the wounds of a friend, /But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” (vv. 5-6; NKJV)

Or try this priceless morsel: “He who rebukes a man will find more favor afterward/Than he who flatters with the tongue.” (Proverbs 28:23)

Next: plant a handful of counselors around you who actually embrace those time-venerated principles and ask them — often — to shoot you straight on what they’re thinking about your actions and decisions.

An extra-biblical source – Napoleon, reputedly – admonished: “Never interfere with the enemy when he’s in the process of destroying himself.”

NB: Both Holy Writ and the notorious French General identify adversaries as the ones who get out of others’ way, thus facilitating self-sabotage by their non-involvement. Meantime, those who actually care about people? They speak up or step in when someone’s on the brink of kneecapping him/herself — even when it’s uncomfortable or awkward doing so.

The New Testament alludes to “speaking the truth in love”. Pay attention: that “love” part requires the “speaking truth” part. Even when it’s emotionally intimidating or costly.

Some years ago, a fellow I knew approached me, soliciting input on a major, impending career change. Gob-smackingly obvious to me was this move was woefully off-base; not “right” for him by any stretch. I told him as much; gently but bluntly.

He wasn’t pleased. I don’t think I ever heard from him again.

His reaction hardly gratified me. But what was I to do? Lie to him? Play along passively as he torpedoed his — and possibly his family’s — future?

None of us, frankly, are immune to the warpingly self-deceiving allure of pride and self-regard. I want it, so I’m automatically capable of doing it! Genuine reflection, prayerful introspection, a cohort of friends willing to critique us – all are crucial safeguards every human being needs welcome.

By the way, the audacious figure BdB is hoping to unseat isn’t exempt from this caution, either. Donald Trump would benefit exceedingly from a few staffers hewing to the “speak-the-truth-in-love” philosophy. For all the good he’s accomplished the past twenty-eight months, observers could be forgiven for concluding the president isn’t what-you’d-call “accountable” to advisors adamantly challenging his opinions with their own. Instead, sycophants seemingly abound in his inner-circle — to his detriment.

Either Mr. Trump’s brain trust isn’t forcefully presenting him with candid wisdom about his prickly character issues — which speaks poorly of them; or they are, and he’s paying them no heed — which doesn’t reflect well on him.

Given the sufficient blend of circumstances, anyone can be tempted to talk himself into anything, no matter how muddle-headed. President Trump, his fellow politicians, every person, for all that, could benefit from hearkening to the unintentional heads-up provided by Mayor de Blasio — and by American Idol.

Image: Modified from: Thomas Altfather Good – Original Work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Steve Pauwels is pastor of Church of the King, Londonderry, NH and host of Striker Radio with Steve Pauwels on the Red State Talk Radio Network. He's also husband to the lovely Maureen and proud father of three fine sons: Mike, Sam and Jake.