The Legacy of Ed Koch
February 8, 2023
If money is the mother’s milk of politics, then rhetoric is its currency. And few political characters of the late 20th century had a sharper wit than former New York City Mayor Ed Koch.
Consider this gem from Koch: “If you agree with me on nine out of 12 issues, vote for me. If you agree with me on 12 out of 12 issues, see a psychiatrist.”
Over this career in politics, Koch found himself sparring with numerous people, politicians and celebrities and even, occasionally, the voters. To be sure, Koch saw this as part and parcel of his role as a political and an elected official. As he said, “You punch me, I punch back. I do not believe it's good for one's self-respect to be a punching bag.”
But Koch also saw his role in picking political fights as having a larger purpose than his own political advantage: he was a stalwart defender of the Jewish people and the state of Israel, and a tireless booster of New York City.
In a new essay in the February 2023 issue of Commentary Magazine, Tevi Troy looks at five battles Koch picked and the bigger reasons for them. In conclusion, Troy finds Koch “was, at his best, a happy warrior.”
In this episode, Eric Kohn, Acton’s Director of Marketing & Communications, speaks with Tevi Troy, a visiting fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, about Ed Koch’s life, legacy, and the lessons we can learn from him on what battles to pick for greater causes and why.