John Hanlon

In his 2000 bestselling book The Tipping Point: How Little Things can make a big Difference, Malcolm Gladwell explores the idea of 'the tipping point,' the moment or time period when an item, an idea, a strategy or a person (or anything for that matter) changes from being just a 'product' into a cultural phenomenon. For example, the crackdown on quality of life crimes in New York City under Giuliani led to an overall 'crime tipping point' in that city where the crime rate went from a high point to an extremely low point in a short period of time, an amazing feat by any measure.

Unfortunately, I think the opposite effect of the tipping point (something akin to a Tour de France bicyclist hitting a brick wall at his fastest pace or a runner losing steam at the halfway point of a race) is currently on display in Giuliani’s 2008 political campaign as the former Mayor of New York is peaking ten months before the first primary votes are cast.

A lot of pundits are going to disagree with me on this but Giuliani’s current momentum is not a good thing for his campaign, especially ten months before anyone starts voting. Giuliani already has the momentum of a bicyclist at top speed in the race but it can not possibly last and the reason why goes back to Gladwell's whole philosophy of the tipping point.

In his book, Malcolm Gladwell writes about the dramatic crime rate change in New York City that happened under America's Mayor. This occurred, Gladwell argues, for several reasons but one of the main reasons behind it was Rudy Giuliani's focus and prosecution of quality of life crimes at the lowest level in the city. As mayor, Giuliani started aggressively going after those responsible for quality of life crimes, such as spraying graffiti and public drunkedness. After this crackdown began, the number of smaller crimes in the city began to decrease and the momentum began building up. With that momentum building, the number of larger crimes began to decrease and crime in the city tipped -- and suddenly, New York City had become much safer than it had been in years.

This was one of the strongest examples of Gladwell’s book (which I strongly recommend, by the way) and it shows how one small idea transformed an entire city.


John Hanlon

John Hanlon is the Operations Manager of Townhall.com. He can be found on Twitter @johnhanlon.