Wednesday, September 12, 2018

School Scope: Democratic Party Needs Reform – Start Locally with New Queens Dems

In this column, submitted for Sept. 14, 2018 publication to The WAVE www.rockawave.com) I go from pre-civil war slavery to the current situation in the Queens Democratic Party, an example of my irrational response to a looming deadline, where I throw stuff against a wall and see what sticks.


School Scope: Democratic Party Needs Reform – Start Locally with New Queens Dems
By Norm Scott

Slavery was recognized in our original constitution. Remember the good old days when slavery was legal and you could be arrested for protesting the law? I think of that when I hear complaints about protests.

In the pre-civil war mid-19th century, as the anti-slavery movement grew in power in the north from a smallish protest movement in the early part of the century into a moral imperative by the 1850s, the United States Congress became a physical battleground, with canings and duels, as many southern “gentleman” members of Congress took any attack on slavery as a personal and political insult. This story, “The Violence at the Heart of Our Politics” was chronicled in the Sept. 9th Sunday NY Times and talked about the 1830s through the breakout of the Civil War where political debates turned violent. Many of the elected were often packing heat, most from the south where gun culture was embedded more deeply than in the more industrial north. Some things don’t change all that much. (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/07/opinion/sunday/violence-politics-congress.html)

Some of the issues separating people today are similar to then, with race at the top. There were 4 million slaves in 1860 and most southerners felt that was OK. (I think there are still people who lament the end of slavery.) I don’t follow the right or alt-right but I’ve heard fragments of comments saying we were less bad than others. I wonder when the newly encouraged anti-Semites will argue Jews were better off under the Pharaohs and Moses made a mistake when he opened up the Red Sea.

Studying the evolution of both parties over the past 160 years is a fascinating exercise. Two-party system was solidified by the mid-late 1850s, with the newly formed Republican Party standing for anti-slavery. The pro-slavery Democratic Party was shaped in the 1820s by Andrew Jackson, a noted racist.

Switching gears to local Democrats: They say all politics is local and our little sliver of paradise here in Rockaway would certainly make for an interesting study of party politics, especially given the outcomes of the 2016 Presidential election on the peninsula where the west end went overwhelming for Trump while as you move east the vote switched to Democrats.

A couple of things caught my eye recently. A NY Times piece uncovered the seemingly corrupt Queens Democratic Party machine which focused on the Queens County Committee and how membership has been manipulated as progressives seeking to be members were denied entry. How Party Bosses, Not Voters, Pick Candidates in New York – a must read if you are interested in reforming a corrupt system. (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/18/nyregion/new-york-politics-party-bosses.html).

The way party business is done is not the way to take on Trump and the Republicans. Is our county Dem party machine still headed by Joe Crowley whose defeat by a democratic socialist has resulted in international attention? Is the machine shutting out Bernie Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez types as a way to keep control? Crowley may be gone from Congress, but the machine he runs seems to live on.

There were two letters in the Sept. 7 WAVE addressing the local Democratic Party situation. Norman Silverman made a plea to the local party clubs to broaden the base. “The party that preaches democracy must actually practice democracy.” The other letter was from the The New Queens Democrats, who describe themselves as “a progressive, grassroots organization advocating for transparency, inclusionary democracy, and accountability within the Queens Democratic Party. NQD serves as an encouraging environment for those looking to become more engaged. NQD hopes to foster a new generation of elected Queens Democratic leaders.” I went to their web site and signed up for their newsletter and hope to do more reporting on them in the future. https://www.newqueensdems.org.

And speaking of corrupt, education superstar Diane Ravitch reported: Cuomo Campaign Smears Cynthia Nixon as an Anti-Semite, Which is Demonstrably False. (https://dianeravitch.net/2018/09/10/new-york-cuomo-campaign-smears-cynthia-nixon-as-an-anti-semite-which-is-demonstrably-false/).

Since you will be reading this after the primary, I won’t get deep into this story but the slime will keep oozing out of the Democratic Party machine and until we see massive reforms, the even slimier Republicans will continue their own oozing.

Norm tosses his own slime at phony ed reformers at ednotesonline.com.

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