Sunday, November 07, 2004

The fight must go on

This was a tough week to be a New Yorker. Tuesday's election was a devastating loss for Democrats and progressives everywhere. But here in New York it was this and more. Nov. 2nd was the day when the last vestiges of post-9/11 goodwill towards us in the rest of the country finally dissipated. Our values were on the ballot on Tuesday--the values of respect for diversity, separation of church and state, responsible leadership abroad--and those values lost. And Tuesday was the day when a majority of Americans voted for four more years of an administration which gives New York less than its fair share of anti-terrorism dollars and has reneged on its promises of post-9/11 rebuilding funds.

To say this is a country of red and blue states is actually misleading. Look at election results by county and what you see is an archipelago of blue cities in a sea of red. This pattern was repeated within states across the country--from New Mexico to Missouri to New York. And that makes those of us in this, the most urban of communities, the most politically isolated.

This loss and isolation has led Democrats nationally and here in New York to a healthy process of rethinking our philosophy, our tactics, andour candidates. But this election did affirm at least one truth forthe Democrats: local action matters. It's a truth that we proved righthere in Upper Manhattan.

Despite being effectively disenfranchised by an electoral college system which took our state out of contention, hundreds of volunteers in our community made their voices heard. Nearly every weekend in the final months of the campaign local residents traveled from Upper Manhattan to the swing state of Pennsylvania in bus trips organized by groups likethe Audubon Reform Democratic Club and 1199 (the healthcare union). Wewere joined by countless similar groups convening in PA from points around the City and region.

In the Audubon Club's trips alone we knocked on thousands of doors in Montgomery County, PA. And it worked. John Kerry not only won Pennsylvania, he decisively won Montgomery County--which is majority Republican--by 55% to 44%.

Progressive New Yorkers racked up another impressive, though underreported, victory: we saw an unprecedented net gain for Democrats of at least 3 seats in the Republican-dominated State Senate. Local leaders like Sen. David Paterson and Sen. Eric Schneiderman led this successful effort, and many residents of Upper Manhattan helped serve as its foot soldiers.

We must build on these local victories as the 2005 City-wide elections approach. At stake will be the future of our schools, our neighborhoods, and more. And in the State elections of 2006 we have a chance to strike a blow at the most dysfunctional state government in the nation.

In many ways the challenge for us nationally is the same as it is locally. We must mount an on-going campaign to organize our neighbors, excite young people to make their opinions heard, and open up the political system for new voices. I'm proud to live in a community where so many have proved they are up to this task. This fight won't be easy, but I'm ready for it. I know you are, too


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Mark!

Like just about anything else, we (I include myself) have been frustrated and fast asleep at the wheel for FAR too long now. It is not enough that “things seem to work out for the best” and when they don’t, we just grumble over “disunity” or “politics as usual”.
I sometimes become disheartened by my “community” when I see how grossly apathetic and outright gullible they can be. I wish the same “sweep” on a national and state level could be repeated locally, both in the city and, most definitely, right here in the neighborhood.
I know you are busy but I hope you don’t give up on this blog, it sometimes takes more than patience to get through to people but, I hope, in the long run the effort will pay off.

8:58 PM  

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