David Dinkins was a nice guy, an amiable and inoffensive fellow who spoke well and looked good in a suit. He was not terribly ideological; in particular, he was not a racial grievance monger. His calm demeanor almost certainly helped to prevent riots from erupting in New York City after the verdict in the Rodney King trial.
His style of governance was based on the dominant intellectual theories of the day: increased taxes; the creation of more government jobs, and more government spending in general; dealing with crime by addressing the “root causes,” etc., etc.
Among college professors, intellectuals, bureaucrats, and Democrat politicians, there was virtually no disagreement that these were the correct strategies.
Because Dinkins was black, liberals felt that the very act of voting for him was a good deed: a concrete demonstration of their moral superiority. And liberals will never balk at an opportunity to demonstrate their moral superiority.
Under Dinkins, crime skyrocketed and property values plummeted. The tax base shrank as taxpayers fled the city. Black-on-black crime was especially prevalent.
But despite the anomie and carnage in the streets, liberals felt good every time an image of Dinkins reminded them that they had voted for a black mayor.
They continued to sing Dinkins’ praises for four long years--even as they moved to the suburbs. Those who stayed told pollsters that they would proudly vote for Dinkins’ again, but when they slipped into the voting booths, and pulled the curtains shut, many quietly voted for Guiliani.