Friday, 29 March 2013

Liberal shapeshifting

We can see how the mayoral race here in New York is going to shape up now that former liberal-turned-Bloomberg-lapdog, Christine Quinn, has a testy primary race on her hands. It will be an exercise in cynicism like those only the Big Apple can produce.

Quinn, an out lesbian who just married her partner, is a very typical product of our city’s politics, a veteran good guy/gal with a long-standing, strong base in local services and historically on the right side of many issues, who, as they creep closer and closer to the top, molts into a tool of corporate selfishness and the police mafia. Periodically, when votes are needed from the liberal-minded public, they carefully shift ground to conserve their progressive sheen, then once elected go back to doing favors for the power elites. The quintessential example, pardon the intended pun, is the late Koch, a truly horrible man who also started out as a downtown liberal.

It’s almost laughable to read about yesterday’s sudden compromise on sick pay guarantees for the city’s workers, shamefully described by the business-friendly outlets like the Times as ‘forcing’ employers to provide this benefit (why not say ‘granting workers the right of’? I mean, we’re talking about people being fired for falling ill, for chrissake. But I digress.)

Quinn as city council president has prevented the measure from coming to a vote, which is earning her very high marks from the businesses who like to keep wages and benefits low and are no doubt crucial sources of campaign cash. The 51 council members would have passed the requirement long ago had they been given a chance to represent our wishes in a democratic fashion.

They weren’t, but then Quinn got roundly booed last week at a debate—hosted by the wonderful editor of Gay City News, Paul Schindler—where she shared the podium with four primary rivals who were delighted to make mince pie out of her opposition to sick pay. Suddenly her business-friendly posture was looking like an electoral liability, and presto-chango! a vote is imminent.

Look forward to more of this, such as Quinn’s blatant pandering on the appallingly racist stop-and-frisk tactics of the NYPD by calling for the creation of a police Inspector-General. That enabled Bloomberg and the cops to get all pretend-mad at her and peel off a couple layers of her damaging association in the popular mind with the outgoing regime of the increasingly insufferable three-term billionaire mayor.

Quinn clearly remains the front-runner and will attract many well-to-do sophisticates who would cringe at a Mitt Romney type but want to preserve all their privileges and do nothing about the grotesque economic inequality that reigns here. They’re eager for young black kids to be as queer as they want, but rarely get too exercised about the cops putting their hands down these kids’ pants allegedly looking for guns.

But I predict that she will get a run for her money as the other mayoral wannabes slam her as nothing more than Bloomberg in a skirt. She needs 40% to avoid a run-off vote, and Bloomberg with all his millions only won by 5 points last time. A lot of people are pissed off here, times are tough, and there’s no guarantee that someone as close to Mr Moneybags as Quinn will have an easy ride into Gracie Mansion.

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