On Christmas Eve, New York City mayor-elect Bill de Blasio’s transition team made a surprising reveal: A video of Chiara de Blasio, daughter of the new mayor, admitting she was recovering from alcoholism and drug abuse. So, why on Christmas Eve? Why ever?
While it had long been suspected that the Santa Clara University student might struggle from these issues, de Blasio refused to answer questions about it on the campaign trail. And though the admission has been packaged as a way to help those with similar struggles through the holidays, it is telling that the family chose not to admit the problem until de Blasio had been safety elected.
Regardless of the odd politics behind this move, Chiara should certainly be praised for her strength. Admitting drug addiction as self-medication for depression is an obstacle not many successfully hurdle — especially not so publicly. But it is a choice that presents a lot of loaded political questions for the family. How, for instance, can the de Blasio family demand privacy for their personal lives while simultaneously airing something so personal for the entire world to see and comment on?
Secondly, why release this announcement on Christmas Eve when no one is paying attention? The revelation comes eight days before de Blasio takes office and, given the family’s artful dance around the issue on campaign trail, the timing of the video makes it seem a lot like a move for damage control instead of a real attempt at conversation.
But, who knows? Perhaps this is just what we need to expect from New York City’s new first family.
The de Blasios are by no means your stereotypical political family. They are a biracial family, which is unique in and of itself; the mother of the family is a former lesbian; the son sports a ‘fro and the daughter has gauges in her ears and has now publicly admitted to substance abuse. This, perhaps, is just a taste of what we are in for with the new mayor — a mix of personal information and politics that works together to tell a story, pushing his political agenda by making him infinitely relatable.
That, after all, is exactly what Bill de Blasio has been doing from the beginning. While other candidates hid their families away, almost all of de Blasio’s photos could have doubled as family portraits.
De Blasio’s 15-year-old son, Dante, took on NYC’s stop-and-frisk policy in an ad that was so direct and effective that Christine Quinn’s campaign simply referred to it as “the ad.” His daughter, though less visible than his son, also spoke in ads and even introduced him before his acceptance speech. There is no indication that now that the family is planning a move into the Gracie Mansion this group-approach to politicking will come to a close — even if it means throwing their dirty laundry into the wind.
“As parents, our instinct has been to protect our daughter and privately help her through a deeply personal struggle,” the couple wrote in a statement accompanying Chiara’s video. “But not only has Chiara committed to her own health, she is also committed to helping young people everywhere who face similar challenges.”
At the end of the video, Chiara spoke to what she feels is the root of the problem:
“We’re not providing enough treatment,” she said. “ I wanted to speak out because people are suffering from this disease and dying from this disease every day. And you really can’t do anything as a society to help those people until we start talking about it.”
Such a personal approach to politics is a massive change from Bloomberg’s cold political manner. Bloomberg, for instance, became a grandfather on Christmas Eve, but the news fell almost flat given that the world knows almost nothing about his daughters, despite their status as billionaire heiresses.
If this announcement is a signal of things to come, we can all expect a lot of drama in the next four years of de Blasio’s term. Take a look at Chiara’s video announcement below.