Wednesday, October 2, 2013

James' Victory, the Path Forward for Progressive Politics; Media's 11 O'Clock Ignoring Important Victory

<Update: link to WNYC map: who won, where
Happy Returns Dept.: Daily News gave official Reports from the Board of Elections>
Letitia James' resounding 59.4%-40.6% victory over Daniel Squadron, What it means for NYC progressive politics: A new day dawns for the city

(James at her Oct. 1 victory speech, with comptroller John Liu, left; councilor Melissa Mark-Viverito)
Really, NY1 has been the only channel worth watching. The television news has tenaciously ignored this important victory. NY1 has been all over this story and has reported --respectfully-- on Tish James' civic and activist record. All the 11:00 pm news outlets, for at least the first seven or so minutes (ABC 7 excepted), totally blanked out the Resounding Letitia James win over Daniel Squadron. James should feel flattered, for when there is news that really matters, like a thousand people marching in the street or mammoth protest rallies, the media ignore it. And the media definitely ignore any ideological statements, intellectual statements or fleshed out systemic critiques that protesters express. They ignored this important victory for progressive politics. James --from her recent record and her ambitious speeches ... indeed, by the dynamism of her leadership and vision, I anticipate even higher office, perhaps the mayoralty or senator, further on-- has a magnificent future ahead and the forces that be are scared. So they went over-board with the worse-than tabloid orgy of crashes, chases, stabbings and nothing of lasting significance. James and your campaign staff, feel tall that they ignored you.

The beginning of the end for reactionary education reform?
Anti-teacher liberals from Merryl Tisch and Andrew Cuomo in Albany to Rahm Emanuel in Chicago must be quivering today. Already by midday yesterday, Tisch blasted New York City mayor-to-be Bill de Blasio for his modest suggestion that charter schools stop exploiting public space and actually pay rent. The de Blasio-James paring is a formidable team that --we hope-- will set a new path forward for education policy.

Squadron, with his support of charter schools, his sponsoring mayoral control extension legislation, with his record of being on the take from privatizers of the public space on which libraries sit, represented the neo-liberal wing of the democrats at its slickest. Yes, good on lots of issues, like compassion for the homeless, but he has been a severe disappointment, to put it lightly, on some key social commonwealth issues (schools and libraries.) By contrast, look at this blog (here, here and here) and Perdido Street School to see James' solid record of activism, both in the city council and in the public square to see her authentic progressivism. (Perhaps the red-scare against de Blasio had taken some of our (we bloggers) attention off of this race and the important issues that it represented. And the more I read on her record and watched her videos, the more impressed I was.) This record which drove solid unity of the unions (excluding the collaborationist Unity-dominated UFT, but her clear stance apart from ed reform probably compelled them to shy away from her) behind her, this will not be the main focus of media coverage of her victory.

A new progressive municipal politics?
The media will talk about how she is the first woman of color in a citywide office. Yes, with the continuing legacy of sexism and racism, this is an important fact not to be discounted or overlooked. But that will largely be the media spin of this. De Blasio and James have excellent, progressive critiques and plans; this will be a positive refreshing change for all of those who have endured Bloomberg. And their example will inspire politicians and Americans well beyond New York. Alas, they and we must remain vigilant. While the Daily Beast optimistically suggested that de Blasio may portend a progressive trend nationally, it also discussed the challenge he has in tackling income inequality in the city.

But be wary of the media. After the victory honeymoon watch out: the media's uncritical echoing of the Joe Lhota economic rightist fear-mongering over de Blasio was only the shape of corporate media propagandist things to come. Watch the media echo the business class' push-back and manipulative scare-mongery against the de Blasio-James initiatives.

All in all, this is a beautiful day in New York.