Big Smoke

'cause it's hard to see from where I'm standin'

Democratic Disappointment

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Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has chosen a Goldman Sachs exec as Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development, which sounds a lot like hiring a fox to watch a hen house, and re-frames his choosing of the blustery law-and-order police commissioner Bill Bratton as something perhaps not politically clever but more of the same calculated centrism that makes being a liberal Democrat so disappointing. It brings to mind Obama’s selection of Goldman Sachs flaks for various staffer positions in the federal government related to economic policy, where we suddenly wonder why we can’t hold banks and investment firms to task.

In discussing this and other aspects of politics in the epicenter of, as Woody Allen lampooned it, left-wing communist Jewish homosexual pornographers (rest in peace, Al Goldstein), I made a joke that of course stuff like this happens: Democratic voters don’t count.

A fellow questioned me as to what I meant. After all, he said, there are significantly more registered Democrats nation-wide than Republicans, and New York City in particular is by far the most liberal bastion of liberalism ever to be labeled liberal. How could Democrats not manage elect people to represent them? Well, the short answer for him was “clearly you are not a Democrat,” but to properly answer that would require an entire essay; one I intend to write by asking a related question:

  • Why is Democratic voter turnout so low?

To be a Democratic voter is to be disappointed. This state of being is built into existing in a two-party system. If you are more liberal than the liberal-most party, then there is no reason for the party to take into account your wishes. What are you gonna do, vote Republican? The party itself may represent a grand assemblage of viewpoints, but it only has to listen to those closest to its opponent, ie: The “swing” vote. Everybody else is held hostage by a lack of viable alternatives. Thus, the two parties move towards the middle ground between them, and everybody else is left in the lurch.

The courtship of centrism has had two general effects on politics: One, the Republican party, being better disciplined (a facet that comes with representing a more homogeneous constituency) has figured out that if it digs its heels in, the Democratic party must move towards it more than it moves towards the Democratic party in order to reach a middle ground. Two, everybody to the outside of this shrinking space between the Republican party and the Democratic party is disenfranchised and sees little to gain from voting.

That isn’t to say liberals are extremists, however. This nation has been marching inexorably towards liberalism in its entire history. But we’re talking about politics. When 96% of Black people vote party-line Democrat, regardless of who’s running for office, it’s fair to say that there isn’t much impetus for the Democratic party to see what Black people are asking for nowadays. That isn’t to say that Republicans have a snowball’s chance in hell of courting the Black vote, either: When 96% of Black people vote party-line Democrat, it’s not because they’re ignorant to the viewpoints of the Republican party. Effectively, if they can’t find a Democrat to vote for, they don’t vote.

For the past 30 years, the large number of disenfranchised Democrats have turned election politics into a consistent juxtaposition: High voter turnout – Democrat wins. Low voter turnout – Republican wins. But without a candidate like Jesus and JFK’s love child married to the Black Jackie O (and boy are Democrats disappointed in that one) the primary inducement to vote is to stop a disaster from happening (or more accurately in a referendum to a disaster that’s already occurred), and that’s not exactly rousing people to take time off work and wait in line.

Even in liberal, liberal New York, where the primary is often-times more contested than the general election, candidates do an immediate about-face the moment they secure the nomination: de Blasio started ponying up to the billionaires the second he was the Democratic pick in order to staunch a flood of money to Lhota, and then marched around Archie Bunker Queens cooing to conservatives that crime isn’t going to skyrocket and pandered to the orthodoxy that he was pro-Israel. He may have used his liberal credentials to beat Democrats like Christine Quinn in the primary, but that’s because centrists like her have a longer rap sheet, and even then the turning point was when the national party pulled its funding from her to him.

As it stands, however, most times inertia sets in. Chuck Schumer has been my senator for longer than I could vote. Charlie Rangel has been my congressmen for longer than I’ve been alive. Most prominent Democratic positions aren’t contested because the national party sees no particular point in spending money to in-fight and simply just selects one. Indeed, during Rangel’s last election, where he was even saddled with a scandal in the House Ethics Committee, he handily beat his competitors because he had the biggest war chest and they all split the vote.

Basically speaking, I don’t think I’ve ever been truly represented despite having voted in every major election. My vote, because it’s assumed, because I have no viable options (Third parties? Ha! Unknown candidate with no endorsements? Might as well play the lottery! Putting the current front-runner’s feet to the fire? I can’t bank on lip service!), doesn’t count. Lopsided elections, hand-picked candidates, gerrymandering, the electoral college… actual democracy is hard to come by. And the longer the politician spends in that game, the more like it he acts.

So how did Giuliani win in 1993? Liberal apathy and disaffection with Dinkins, resulting in low voter turnout (Jewish people hated him). How did he win in 1997? Inertia. Bloomberg in 2001? Liberal apathy and disaffection with Green, resulting in low voter turnout (Black people hated him). Bloomberg in 2005? Inertia. Bloomberg in 2009? Liberal apathy and disaffection with Thompson, resulting in low voter turnout (the unions didn’t open up their purse strings). De Blasio in 2013? WE HATE BLOOMBERG. How did Bush win in 2000? Liberal apathy and disaffection with Gore, resulting in low voter turnout (he wasn’t Clinton). How did he win in 2004? Liberal apathy and disaffection with Kerry, resulting in low voter turnout (he was even more wooden than Gore). How did Obama win in 2008? WE HATE BUSH.

And that’s how communist pinkos vote in one-percenters and a Democratic country votes in Republican candidates: Democratic voters don’t win elections, they only choose whether to lose them.

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