27 October 2009

Politician, Heal Thyself

Hear the one about the mayor who speeds around town in several SUVs to execute and support his various environmental, biking and pro-mass-transit initiatives? The mogul who thinks he's the one to save the city from an economic crisis partially created by the technology he sold to the Wall Streeters? The zealot who insists we all eat well even as he wolfs down junk food with piles of salt on it? The populist who goes out of his way to make sure the people don't have a say in the running of the city? The self-professed anti-politician who attains offices by whoring himself out to the political party that will most quickly expedite his re-election?

Everything Bloomberg does seems rooted in the most flagrant hypocrisy and do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do self-delusion. A new example of this can be seen in an article in the New York Times today (which paper recently endorsed the would-be third-termer. Remember when one of the purposes of journalism was to bring discomfort to the comfortable?). Bloomberg's people are bemoaning the low turnout in the recent primary and runoff elections, and are determined to get the vote out next week.

“At the end of the day, every election is about one thing: making sure your supporters get to the polls and vote,” Lenny Speiller, the campaign’s get-out-the-vote director, declares on the Bloomberg Web site.

Recalling the record-low turnouts in last month’s primary and runoff, Mr. Speiller exhorts Bloomberg volunteers to shift into overdrive. “Our efforts have been and will continue to be the most expansive and effective grass-roots operation this city has ever seen,” he said in a blog post dated Friday. “Tonight we will knock on our 1,500,000th door, make our 550,000th volunteer phone call and hand out literature at our 4,000th transit stop and high traffic location — and if you think that’s impressive, you haven’t seen anything yet!”

Admirable. Let's put aside, for the moment, the ridiculousness of a campaign that has spend more millions than any other in New York City history calling itself a "grass-roots operation," and focus on what the Bloomberg camp seems to be missing. That is, if there is widespread apathy among New Yorkers at present, the Mayor created it. When an election is hopeless and corrupt, voters react in two ways: some get angry and fight, joining the opposition; but most throw up their hands, give up and walk away in disgust.

Most New Yorkers presently feel as though they have no say in how their City is run; no power whatsoever. Bloomberg's end run around term limits hollowed out voter will. We're all empty hulls now. Why go to the polls when it was clear long ago that Bloomberg had decided he was going to be Mayor as long as he liked, no matter what we said, thought or did? We can't stop him. That he wants our vote seems absurb and unnecessary. He's already King; does he really need us to act like serfs? If he can thwart voter will by overturning term limits expressly to serve his career and ego needs, can't he stuff the ballot box and otherwise fudge the results as he sees fit?

You can either run an honest and fair race, or you can have voter interest, Mike. You can't have both. If you don't give a fuck about us, a lot of us aren't going to give a fuck about you.

(Thanks to Restless for the picture.)


Ken Mac said...

it'll be a miracle if he loses. That photo is priceless!

Mike R said...

I don't live in the city, nor is my office located there, so in some ways I don't have a dog in the race - but the health of the city both fiscally and physiclly does affect us bridge and tunnel folks too.

I agree that the 3rd term is being jammed down your throats and there is some justification for voting against Bloomberg on principal there. Third terms are notorious for being bad there is wisdom in term limits.

But - Bloomberg has done a good job as Mayor.

I don't know how old you are or how long you live in NYC, but remember the last "traditional Democratic" mayor? That would be Dinkins. In 4 years he almost managed to give back all the gains of the Koch era and send the city back to the days of Lindsey and Beame. I can't see Thompson being any different - the job is over his head and he's a political hack. We've already got one in Albany - do you want one running the city?

Think carefully before you vote. If you vote for Thompson as a matter of principal on the term limits issue, I can respect that. But on ability to lead and govern, Thompson can't shine Bloombergs shoes.

Ed said...

Really the only thing you can do is to leave. But that is harder than alot of blog commentators (a disproportionate amount of whom, I think, are retired), tend to think. You still need a job and its good to have family nearby. New York is a bad place to find a job right now, but there are parts of the country where the economy has more completely collapsed (Florida) or where the local governmens are actually closer to bankruptcy (California).

JM said...

This was your best post ever. You are absolutely right, in my opinion.

Anyone who says Bloomberg has done a 'good job' as Mayor has a very different definition of the word 'good' than I do. He basically has ridden the wave of the stock market recovery since 9/11, and if you look across the country, many, many cities did well between 2002 and 2008. Bloomberg will be as incapable as any politician of stopping the economic decline we're in, especially when it really kicks in over the next year or two.

Meanwhile, he has used the relative prosperity of the 2002-08 to allow developers to run rampant, unsupervised with the vast majority of new construction uninspected. Neighborhoods have been irrevocably changed, their characters killed or badly damaged, and architecturally inappropriate and simply bad buildings have proliferated. He has encouraged and sped the suburbanization of a wonderful city, caring more for recent arrivals with money and tourists than for the backbone populace that has lived here for generations.

He is a rich man that wants the city to be in his image -- facile, superficial and reserved for the wealthy.

Using the fear tactic of 'We're gonna get another Mayor like Dinkins--remember how bad things were then?' is both borderline racist and a complete logical fallacy. As Thompson's TV spot shows, Bloomberg believed him to be the greatest comptroller in city history--until he ran against Bloomberg.

I will never forgive Bloomberg for hosting the Republican convention here in Manhattan, and in ordering the police state tactics against any dissenters, or even seemingly potential dissenters, during that event. It was a display almost worthy of Mayor Daly in '68, although more chillingly efficient at quieting disagreement.

In fact, that's really the legacy of the man: quieting disagreement, usually by force of one kind or another, including the force of his wealth in stifling any competition.

The coming years will probably be tough in the city, as they will be most everywhere. We need someone who at least has a feel for the true pulse of the city and the majority of the people who make it work by working and living here.