Progressive Fail in NYC
Yesterday's election in NYC was won on the one hand by right wing extremist teabaggers, and on the other hand by corrupt Party Boss Vito Lopez.
Moderate, competent Democrat David Weprin was trounced by radical right wing extremist Turner for Anthony Weiner's Congressional seat. The media wants to spin this as a referendum on Obama and Israel. It wasn't. This is just another right wing myth used for spin purposes. The election came down to one thing primarily, I believe. Marriage Equality. David Weprin, himself a very pro-Israel, mainstream Orthodox Jew had the integrity to recognize that his personal religious views on gay marriage should not trump Constitutional rights in this secular society, so he voted for marriage equality and openly supported it. To me this shows integrity and intelligence because he, unlike so many right wing religious extremists like Rick "Christian Taliban" Perry, recognizes that his personal religious beliefs cannot by law, nor should not be forced upon society at large. They remain, for him personal.
But there is a large segment of the Orthodox community that may well be closer to the Taliban and the Christian Taliban on this issue at least. They wish to deny Constitutional rights to gays because the bible says so...or so they believe. So these Orthodox Jews, who mostly are economically liberal, voted for the worst possible trickle down worshipping, Teabagger Republican Turner JUST because they don't want gays to have equal rights.
As a Jew who is more than willing to stop in my busy schedule to do Tefillin with Hasids who ask, I say FUCK these Jews who believe their hatred of gays should be law and that this disgusting prejudice trumps the shared economic values they have with Weprin and NOT radical right winger Turner. Seriously! I generally respect my Orthodox and Hasidic brethren. But when they feel it is okay to force their personal religious views on society as a whole, contrary to the Constitution, I feel they are refusing to give the same dignity and respect to others that they wish society give to them. And let me tell you Turner, Perry, Bachmann, Palin and the other Teabagger extremists do NOT give the same dignity and respect to Jews that they do to their own brand of Christian fanaticism. The Orthodox just made a pact with the devil in my mind and God help us if they keep doing it because history tells us what happens when right wing fanatics and Christian fundamentalists are in power. Seriously, my brethren, is THAT what you want? Is THAT really better to you than the right of gays to have equal rights to you?
I will add that there are plenty of progressive activists who refused or were slow to help Weprin. I think they need to look at their choices and realize they made a mistake. They...myself perhaps included, since it was not high on my list, though I did support him from early on...should have gotten involved early and often. Would that have counterbalanced the Orthodox Jewish pact with the Devil? Possibly not...but maybe it would have.
The LGBT community seemed to work hard for Weprin. Lambda Independent Democrats in particular worked hard for Weprin and I salute them for that. They, unlike some of the progressive grassroots and the Orthodox Jews, realized what was at stake.
And while we're at it, where the HELL were the Queens and Brooklyn machines? I don't know about the Queens machine because I don't have much experience with them. But the Brooklyn machine did EXACTLY what they always do...focus on their cronies and not on defeating Republicans. Vito Lopez did almost nothing for Weprin in the end...but his machine sure helped (either behind the scenes or openly) two other candidates: Hudson for judge and Espinal for Assembly. This is one of my biggest beefs with the Vito Lopez machine, on par with their outright corruption: the Vito Lopez machine cares NOTHING about electing Democrats over Republicans. they ONLY care about electing their corrupt cronies in primaries. National Dems should take note of this. I sure wish Schumer would slap Vito Lopez upside the head and get him doing his goddamned job rather than just wallow in corruption. Why is Vito Lopez tolerated? He hurts rather than helps the Dems.
Which brings me to two other races the progressive grassroots screwed up. One was a big screw up. The other perhaps is understandable.
Let's start with the understandable one. The 54th Assembly district pitted three pretty unqualified people against eachother. One, Espinal, had nothing going for him except being a crony of Vito Lopez. He was the corruption candidate. He won. Corruption won yet again in what was something of a resurgence of the Vito Lopez machine. Another, Diedre Towns, had nothing going for her except her last name was "Towns" one of the local political families. And the third, Jesus Gonzalez, had little going for him except he WASN'T a crony of Vito Lopez and WASN'T a Towns. The Progressive Grassroots put a lot into Gonzalez. Which probably knocked Dierdre Towns from second place to third, with Gonzalez coming in second. Either way, Vito Lopez got his folks out for Espinal in a way he didn't bother to do for Weprin. Again, take note National Democratic Party. Vito Lopez does nothing for you, only for himself. Racial issues (Hispanic vs. black) played a role, but it is unclear to me that in the end that was all that important.
Then we come to the Brooklyn Civil Court Judge race. Here, to give credit where credit is due, Vito Lopez, all behind the scenes, exerted his biggest influence. Progressive, reform, pro-gay rights candidate Cheryl Gonzales, who, while running for office took time off to try and address the recent spate of rapes in Brooklyn (didn't hear any of Vito's people do that!), was endorsed by the New York Times, most local papers and most local reform clubs. She was trounced by the Vito Lopez candidate, Hudson. Now either Lopez put infinitely more effort into this (again, all behind the scenes) than he did for Weprin (TAKE NOTE NATIONAL DEMS...VITO LOPEZ DOESN'T HELP YOU), or Brooklyn as a whole is far more willing to vote for someone named "Hudson" than "Gonzales" since most people just saw their names. Either way, the progressive grassroots and the New York Times got trounced by Vito Lopez acting behind the scenes. Gee...I just wish Vito had put that much effort into actually defeating a goddanmed Republican, which should be his job. Vito NEVER does his job. He just does corruption. Period. Why doesn't Schumer and the National Dems wake up to this? Vito Lopez put more into defeating Gonzales in a primary than he did in defeating Turner in a general. That says all you need to know.
So let me be clear. The progressives lost big time yesterday. Weprin was a tough one, since the Orthodox Jews chose to put bigotry before even self interest. To be fair, the Irish Catholics do much the same. The Assembly race was also hard because of ethnicity issues and the fact that it was a three way race. But Cheryl Gonzales, with a NY Times endorsement and the endorsement of every reform club in the area, should have been a goddamned slam dunk. All we needed to do is get out the vote using these endorsements.
We failed. Come on folks. Learn the lesson for once. Stop dropping ball after ball after ball. Sometimes you have to put in some effort for the less glamorous races. They really make a difference. They are where YOU can make a difference and let's face it, judges affect people daily. So letting Vito Lopez push in his crony over every reform club and the NY Times means our judicial system suffers...so regular Americans suffer as well. Because we couldn't be bothered to help out one of the best candidates that ever came our way???
Sometimes we win. Too often we drop the ball. I challenge you all to learn to catch that ball far more often. And I admit, sometimes I need the same lesson.