VOTE: Primary Day, Tuesday, September 9

“Without general elections, without unrestrained freedom of press and assembly, without a free struggle of opinion, life dies out in every public institution… in which only the bureaucracy remains as the active element.” — Rosa Luxemborg

We’re all friends here, right? And by friends, I mean Democrats. Okay, I know there’s some outliers. Someone has to shop at Pink. In fact, I wish y’all (and by y’all, I mean Republicans of any stripe) had your act together a little better, so someone could could provide a spirited challenge to the twisted, self-serving and incompetent beast that is the entirely of the New York State Democratic machine: hacks, politicians activists; loud-mouths and back room operatives.

Then I wouldn’t have feel that the most appropriate quote for this coming election (TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 9) speaks directly to the perverse condition that most of us, and by us, I mean Democrats, take for granted, often shockingly with pride: the majority of our local contests are only that at the primary level. I know this is true in regions and states that have sharply polarized electorates, but if every other state jumped of a bridge…

We like to be preening, over-weening elitists who tell everyone else what is good for them. We stand apart from the rest of the country on significant issues such as gun control, taxation, arts funding and housing support (though this is hard to tell, even up close), so why we should gleefully accept the turd-like central committee angling that is primary election season is beyond me.

This is a long-winded (is there any other kind around here?) endorsement for PAUL NEWELL (D-64) and DANIEL SQUADRON (D-25). And it must be shrill and antagonistic, because if 7,000 people in lower Manhattan can’t be roused enough to show Sheldon Silver the curb, we will suffer at least another two years of back room dealings and obscene gestures of an aristocratic bureaucracy. And that number is a pretty high bar, as primaries go. 4,000 votes can get you the nod as a Democrat.

I’m not going to catalog all the reasons why supporting Newell (and Squadron) makes sense as a matter of policies evinced. Aside from the fact that any interested observer should have plenty of evidenced pro or con, it’s also a little late to be debating on merits. If you go to Silver’s page, or read the interviews, or consume the selective histories presented by his supporters, he will come off as a more than decent Dem. Too much nuance is required to refute this in a couple hundred words. But trust me, the differences are real, and worth passing over Silver.

There are two good, simple reasons to think about voting, if you haven’t, and to rethink your support of Silver and Connor (Squadron’s opponent in NY-25) if you have:

ONE: “He’s an asshole, but he’s our asshole” is a non-starter. This is the sort of argument you hear for any incumbent, or a representative who is nominally aligned with ‘outsider’ status as pertains to an institution. When you trace the family tree of, say, George Bush, you will come to see a scrappy Jew from the Lower East Side as a perennial David to the white shoe Goliaths of New Haven and beyond. But this is New York, we have plenty of Jews (evidenced by, you know, his opponent), and Silver is the establishment, in the worst possible way. This is the sort of Stockholm Syndrome thinking that pervades unions and other assorted liberal collectives. The point being, it isn’t the cult of the personality that makes them strong, it isn’t our asshole. It is the collective, and this sort of defeatist ‘if not him, then who?’ thinking that corrodes oppositional political organizing.

Digging down into his record proves this out. Sure, he stopped the West Side stadium, but you know, that’s not his district. What he did least for his district is allow the ongoing evisceration of the Rent Stabilization Guidelines as a sap to Uncle Joe Bruno, as part of their two headed hydra control of the statehouse for the past fifteen years. The preeminent issue in his district and he’s been nowhere since the word go, proving again and again that protection of his position comes at the expense of his constituents. Now that Bruno looks like he may finally take that well deserved perp walk, it brings us to reason number two.

TWO: Throw the bums out. A couple years back the Times (both Newell and Squadron have received Times endorsements) took the extraordinary step of endorsing every non-incumbent in the Senate and Assembly elections. So sad is the state of challenges, this means many seats went without one, since the incumbent lock is so strong that many seats run uncontested. Regardless of where you land on the political spectrum, not seeing the value of of a challenge means you can’t see the essence of a robust, sharp-elbows democracy. If you can’t defeat a fool, then perhaps you shouldn’t be given a free pass, as most of our assembly members get every two years.

The rhetoric of campaigning has never been a grand as the Athenian model we think of when venerating days of yore. And it never was that fair. So it makes sense that Bruno, Silver and whomever was pandering to them in the Governor’s mansion never worked so hard as when they did to prevent change and reform. Thinking that control of the Senate will improve thinks for residents, particularly those of the 64th District is absurd. We will see an even more opaque version of stasis to which we are subjected yearly. There is no confidence that control will bring reform. The best way to do that is to turn the cookie jar upside down.

There are roughly 127,000 residents in NY-64. About 60,000 are registered. 20% of that number are likely to vote this Tuesday. People like to grouse their votes mean little, particularly when they are Democrats in the safest Dem state in history. So here is your chance: this is likely the most powerful, and valuable, contribution you can make to public service. Need your polling location? Find it here.

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