Sunday, December 9, 2012
Election 2012 was one of the biggest progressive victories in American politics since the LBJ landslide of 1964. Americans not only re-elected its first black Democratic president, increased the Democratic majority in the US Senate, and reduced the Republican majority in the US House, but Democrats gained state legislatures, and liberal ballot initiatives -- pot legalization, marriage equality, tax increases to fund education -- passed in a number of states.
It was a great progressive victory.
This included New York State. Obama won the state, our junior senator was re-elected in a record landslide, Democrats gained congressional seats, and also won control of the New York State Senate.
For decades, literally, through gerrymandering, Republicans maintained control of the state senate. They cut a deal with the Assembly Democrats to draw district lines where the Republicans had a virtually unbreakable lock on the state senate while Democrats had a similar lock on the state assembly. It was a sleazy bi-partisan disgrace and it kept our state government dysfunctional and, more importantly, our laws behind the times.
But times changed.
New York is more liberal and Democratic today. The Republican party is all but finished here. It hasn't won a state-wide race since 2002 when Governor Pataki won his last term. We haven't had a Republican senator or Attorney General since 1998 or a Republican comptroller since 1993. The New York State Congressional Delegation is overwhelmingly Democratic and our few Republican Congresspeople are way more liberal than Republican congresspeople from the rest of the country. The one last bastion of Republican power in this state was the State Senate and, despite gerrymandering the hell out of it, the Democratic tidal wave broke through in 2012 and Democrats won control of the chamber -- 33 to 30.
Until they didn't.
Last week, six so-called Democratic State Senators broke away from the Democratic caucus and agreed to create a "coalition" with the Republicans. These means that even though voters in this state went the polls and voted for a Democratic state senate, six "Democrats" cut a deal with the GOP to keep that party in power while also getting some power for themselves.
Banana Republic time in Albany.
This cabal -- sorry, coalition -- is absolutely breathtaking in its arrogance, venality, and dishonesty. It is undemocratic and wrong. Voters voted one way and the people they elected decided to go the other way. These six people presented themselves as Democrats, got the party to nominate them, got people to donate to and vote for their campaigns as Democrats -- and then gave power of the state senate to Republicans. Wow.
Of course, the leaders of this "coalition" see it differently. They talk about the glories of "bipartisanship" and "reform" and "putting politics aside" -- all a bunch of cynical, dishonest crap. They don't mean a word of it. They have put together a complicated, idiotic "power sharing" agreement where they will share control of the state senate and its agenda. They claim they will pursue progressive legislation like hiking the minimum wage and campaign finance reform.
Well, if they want a progressive agenda, why not create a progressive caucus in the state senate? It defies logic because, of course, there is no logic there. Only greed and power.
The GOP and these six "Democrats" have warped the desires of the New York State electorate and continued the corrupt practices of Albany. They are unfit to serve. This is an attempt by a dying political party and six state senators to cling to power that the people of this state do not want them to have. Sick.
Let's hope that one day they will pay a heavy price for this.
Great story today about a conductor of the Queens College Aarron Copeland School of Music. His name is Maurice Press, he's 82 years old, and has been working as a conductor and a teacher for over 60 years. These are the kind of NYC characters I love -- and whose company I could only hope to aspire to.