This year’s race for Governor of New York can be the most exciting we’ve ever seen, which is the political establishment’s nightmare. There are five candidates on the ballot and in alphabetical order they are: Charles Barron, Freedom Party; Andrew Cuomo, Democratic Party; Kristin Davis, Independent; Howie Hawkins, Green Party; Rick Lazio, Conservative Party; and Carl Paladino, Republican Party. This “state of affairs” is giving the establishment fits. The Republicans have completely lost control of their base and the Democrats see the potential splintering of their own traditional voters. They are in an election with a junkyard dog of a major party contender and facing an electorate that is itself snarling, frustrated, feeling disrespected, and this is across the political spectrum. But now, perhaps thanks in part to Web technology and as an example of why totalitarian regimes want to control access to the Internet, feelings of discontent can be expressed, coalesce and form critical masses that march to the sound of their own agendas rather than “ruling class wannabees”.
Now the Democrats are in a real trick bag. If they go into a debate with only Paladino, they will confirm the electorate’s sense of disrespect, giving their base no reason to care. And a passionless campaign against Paladino is a loser. You have to pile on that junkyard dog and kick him in the ribs, otherwise he’ll take you. They are not to be finessed, you have to call out the troops and the troops are in the electorate, but you have to give them a reason to care. Certainly, activist African-Americans are not interested in hearing, “Now is not the time, we have to defeat Paladino. Put your agenda on jobs, education and all the other traditional concerns on hold once again, we’ll get to them at some point.” If that’s going to be the party line, they’ve got a problem.But if Cuomo debates with all the candidates on a level playing field, it will only increase the candidates’ profiles, and while Lazio will be a refuge for concerned Republicans, Andrew Cuomo would have to make concessions to African-Americans, women and progressives in order to create the energy he’ll need to excite the voters and win the apparently tightening race. We would hope they would ride to the sound of the guns, have the full debates and excite the electorate for all of the contenders. Those would be debates where the voters would be the clear winners. I hope they do that and get out all of their people, because they’re going to need them after the Freedom Party votes are tallied.The deeper problem for the Democrats is that the Freedom Party is part of an African-American movement towards a new consciousness and if that results in a seismic shift of power that temporarily shakes things up and readjusts everyone’s thinking, then that means it’s working.
Rats! They are taking over the streets at night in numbers we have not seen before. Scurrying back and forth between the curbs and the houses along our regular routes up Clifton or Lafayette Avenues. Bunches of them munching reliably at the northeast corner of Lafayette and Bedford. And there is no wonder why they’re here, it’s the abundance of food torn from the garbage in plastic bags, and from chicken bones strewn about. As a dog walker, I am kept constantly aware of the buffet of tossed chicken parts that litter the streets. We need mandatory use of rat-proof containers for garbage placed outside the home and at the curb. Enforce antilittering laws, perhaps adding a per chicken limb surcharge. And while we’re talking about quality of life on the streets of Brooklyn, whatever happened to pooper scooper enforcement?