Vote for your rights! (Or lefts!)
Today, millions of Americans go to the Polls looking for the part on the ballot that says, “Sorry, I should have voted for John Kerry.” They will instead be faced with more localized choices like Mayor, County Legislature, Town Justice, Town Supervisor, Assessor and, in our new home as in many towns across America, even a Highway Superintendent. As I’ve often said, America suffers not from a shortfall of democracy, but from a surfeit. There’s so much you can vote on that it’s often easier not to bother.
It didn’t take us long to learn of the political divisions around our town, which seems to be as closely divided between Republicans and Democrats as does the nation in whole. The same somehow seems NOT to be true of New York City right now which, despite its long tradition as a pro-Union, heavily democractic, culturally and politically liberal city, has an incumbent Republican Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, looking at the biggest landslide victory in living memory.
Is this because the self-made billionaire Bloomberg was formerly a Democrat who switched parties to get on the ballot in 2001? Is it because his Democrat opponent, Fernando Ferrer, is Hispanic and New Yorkers are more (secretly) racist than they like to let on? Is it because they believe that Ferrer is genuinely unqualified? Is it because they believe the City is not “broken” under Bloomberg and that therefore there is no reason to “fix” it? Or is it because they’ve been unintentionally swayed by Bloomberg’s limitless campaign funds: the Mayor has put more than $66 million of his own money into his re-election campaign, over eight times the amount Ferrer was able to raise and spend through more traditional forms of financing?
I don’t have a dog in the NYC race, but as Democrats go to the polls today to re-elect a Republican, I do want to quote from a brief, poorly written e-mail that came my way yesterday. Listed among reasons to boycott Bloomberg were:
“Fundraiser for GOP. He has donated and raised over $5 million dollars for the RNC (that_s for all you democrats that hate Bush but think that Bloomberg_s not so bad. Hey guess what! Your boy_s in deep with Bush!) Hundreds wrongfully arrested and detained during RNC convention.”
Oh yes, the Republican National Convention. One of Bloomberg’s brighter ideas. Welcome the Republicans to New York and show them that the city’s famed tolerance stretches not only beyond color and creed but also beyond political affiliation. You wouldn’t have known it from the battle scenes that marked the convention itself, but Bloomberg appears to have been right. Far right. And as such, New York can no longer lay claim to being a left-wing City.