If history is indeed a clock, as the late Dr. John Hendrik Clarke noted, tomorrow’s primary elections are a sort of timeclock that must be punched, a measure of the political temperature of the community. How can we make our votes count? How can we maximize the impact of our voting choices?
On the one hand, we have Republicans – the Trumps, the Tea Party people, and the rest of the openly supremacist whites. On the other hand, we have the Democrats – the phony liberals, the newly rising “progressives” and the leftist-leaning alternative parties. As we walk through the lengthening shadow in the political valley of death, what is a brother or a sister to do?
One thing is clear – in troubled times we have to get our own political house in order. That is the necessary precondition for economic and social progress as we move forward. It’s not that we don’t vote as a block – we do. It’s just that we don’t control the actions of the block or pick the candidates of the bloc. And what’s worse, everybody knows it. We can’t even credibly pretend to be in charge – of ourselves. Look at the last elections at the local, state, and national levels of government.
The sad common denominator is the “Which way Kemosabe?” politics of our community, as ‘led” by our timid, Black Elected Officials. For you millennial voters, Kemosabe is the term of endearment/enslavement used by the “Indian” Tonto (Spanish for stupid or crazy/confused) when talking with the TV cowboy called Lone Ranger (google it.) Tonto did what he was told to do, never questioning the masked white man with the white Stetson hat.
In the 2014 election for governor, Andrew Cuomo was in his Reagan Democrat pose, pushing tax cuts, public employee pension cuts, squeezing public education funding, and not-so-subtly backing Republican control of the state Senate. He lost 45 of the state’s 56 counties – including almost all of upstate and nearby Nassau County. Without an undeserved black vote super-majority, he would not be a Governor dreaming presidential dreams.
Even then-unknown challenger Zephyr Teachout (now running for Attorney General against Tish James and Leecia Eve) might be Governor IF a unified Black bloc vote supported her. She won one third of the primary vote. Would she have made a great governor? Who knows? But Cuomo is a known commodity that supervises one of the most corrupt state houses in the nation. Many of his closest aides are convicts, and he’s the only un-indicted one of the “three men in a room” who controlled the state budget.
In 2016 presidential elections, Hillary Clinton got more than 85% of the black vote- but was abandoned by the college-educated white women who preferred Donald Trump. The day after his inauguration, these same women held a massive rally, the famed Women’s March, to protest the new President (and themselves presumably, since they and Joe SixPack provided Trump’s margin of victory.) They chanted, “Welcome to your first day, we will not go away!
Again, would Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders have made a better candidate? Probably they would’ve. Both would have done better with the Archie Bunker/rust belt crowd. Neither carried the baggage of welfare “reform,” Libya, drone warfare, Slick Willie, etc. Hillary and husband allegedly stole millions from Haitian relief, doing more damage to the island than any hurricane, and they used their foundation to get around political campaign limits.
In 2017, De Blasio won re-election on the strength of son Dante’s Afro and the recurring nightmares of Michael Bloomberg, Rudy Giuliani – 20 years of Republican mayors in supposedly super blue, super-progressive New York. The Mayor got more that 80% of the Black vote, more than 70% of the Latino vote and won on cruise control. Without a lot of love or votes from the City’s new, white minority.
De Blasio talked the talk we love to hear – when running the first time. But within six months of taking office, he ran away from every platform plank that got him elected. Cuomo and Eva Moskowtiz flipped his education plank, Bill Bratton and the PBA flipped his criminal justice reform plank, and that was the end of the De Blasio revolution.
Bottom line, we need to end the “Which way Kemosabe?” political strategy – following whichever flawed candidate comes out of the Democratic machine. The Republicans choose not to offer viable candidates, so they aren’t an option currently. But we deserve to have a veto over any Democratic politician, since they all win on the strength of the Black vote.