Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Election Day

There was just one race to vote on in my precinct today, the five-way spat between ancient Harlem war-horse Charlie Rangel and the Hispanic challenger, my neighbor Adriano Espaillat (and three other postulants). No one has dared to breathe a word about Rangel’s multitudinous ethical lapses in his 40 years in the House of Representatives, which earned him a stern rebuke and demotion a couple years ago. That’s odd since voters could have been deemed competent to consider that episode and consider it when making their choice.

Instead, as I noted last week, this is a race race. Exhibit A: as I was heading down into the subway yesterday, an Espaillat campaign volunteer was handing out literature to commuters. I didn’t get one. Was it clear from my body language that I am an independent-minded sod not likely to be swayed by a piece of glossy paper? I think not. More likely the young lady was promoting her Latino candidate by selectively canvassing only Latino residents.

I should be cautious about jumping to conclusions—maybe she was running out of flyers and decided to be strategic—but there have been steady hints that the underlying appeal throughout the campaign has been to ethnicity: references to nuestra gente (our people), for example. Rangel’s backers have him running against the Republicans, who are, um, not on the ballot in the primary, while saying nothing of his four opponents. He also has a line-up of the usual suspects providing endorsements including, among the most dubious, Mayor Nasty and Governor Dufus (Koch/Paterson). They trotted out the same line as two years ago, that Rangel should be given the chance to retire with pride with ‘just one more term’. They’ll repeat it in 2014 if he’s still on his feet.

No doubt these pols know what they’re doing and decided nothing would be gained (for them) by challenging Rangel on his stewardship of the public trust. But that’s what this election should have been about—not what color you are.

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