Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New York: Is There a Ford in Our Future ?

When Hillary Clinton left her New York Senate seat to serve as Secretary of State, her seat went to Kirsten Gillibrand. I was hopeful, because Gillibrand had been a pro gun upstate moderate when she represented the 20th Congressional district well outside of New York City. Since becoming a Senator, she has "seen the light" and embraced gun control. Her core value has been getting elected.

Now, she is being challenged by former Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford, whose record in Tennessee was pro life and against gay marriage. According to the Daily News, he is shedding his old political positions faster than a drag queen getting ready to take a walk on the wild side. The Daily News reports as follows.

"Ford said yesterday he supports gay marriage, despite voting twice in the House for a constitutional ban on same-sex weddings.

"I'm of the opinion now that nothing is wrong with that," he said on NBC's "Today" show."

His political "evolution" , which probably occurred on his plane ride to New York City also included aborting his pro life position. The Daily News noted his transformation as follows.

On abortion rights, Goldin (Ford spokesman) said Ford supports a woman's right to choose. But in 2006, he said, "I'm pro-life, I'm pro-life," and, "I was not pro-choice at one time."

In politics, there are local interests and there are matters of principal. Anyone who cares about the people he or she represents will try to bring money and projects in. They will also attempt to advocate for constituents who need help from the government. Hillary Clinton did very well at this. I knew people who detested her and campaigned against her who ended up respecting her for "doing her homework". She is the type of person who could spend eight weeks reading up on Guyana and running for president there. She would probably do a great job if she were elected there or anyplace. She is very adept at reading an area and a constituency and delivering what they want.

There are, however, matters of principal. If you think abortion is murder, you will need to put your conscience under general anesthesia to vote for it. If you are in favour of the right to private gun ownership and effortlessly change position, it makes me wonder what you really believe. An intellectually honest statement would read as follows.

"I personally oppose abortion and gay marriage. I want to get elected in New York. I will therefore follow the pollsters rather than my heart. Back in Tennessee, I could do both. In New York I must choose. I am pro choice. I am choosing to run for Senator of New York State. I believe in getting elected."

The fact is, the political system does a poor job of reading its constituencies. I live in a predominantly African American area. There are loads of church vans that are very busy taking people to church on Sunday. Pentecostals, Baptists, Muslims and West Indians with back home values are here in strength. They hate racism. They want to see a lot more two parent families. They want to see heterosexual marriage strengthened. They fear crime. Ask the store keepers here if they think they should be allowed to pack heat. They won't give you a sermon about gun control.

There are a lot of people in New York who oppose abortion on religious grounds. If we ever got a political leader from the Brooklyn grass roots, he or she would probably be a mixture of pro labour, pro life, pro family and anti racism. Voting in Brooklyn is a lot like eating out at McDonald's. What is on the menu is all you can get. If you want them to hold the pickles, you have to call corporate headquarters.

The motto "Have it your way" should be transplanted from Burger King to Brooklyn politics. A mix of social and religious conservatism combined with a pro labour and anti racist outlook is underrepresented. Unfortunately, Harold Ford never made it out to Brooklyn and the working class areas of Queens. We are a lot closer to Tennessee politically than we are to Manhattan.

It looks like Harold Ford did a "market study" and packaged himself accordingly. I'd like to see someone run for office who will get out of Manhattan and speak to the rest of New York. What would be amazing would be to see someone actually say what he or she believes, and run the risk of losing an election.

If Harold Ford would have remained the man he was in Tennessee, he would have had my vote. I hope that someone else will enter the New York Senate race who actually believes in something more than getting elected. Sphere: Related Content

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