Saturday, November 09, 2013

Year of the Donkey: Mayoral Race 2013, Adolfo Carrion, the NYC Independence Party, and Political Snobbery and Dysfunction


Statement by the Independence Party of New York City on the results of the 2013 Mayoral race

Congratulations to Bill de Blasio and the Working Families Party on their win.

The political coalition taking over City Hall says it will take on the problem of economic inequality and poverty in our city.  We support that 100 percent!

We hope that the new Mayor's agenda will also include taking on political dysfunction.  With voter turnout at a 96-year low and a million independents locked out of primary voting, New York's electoral process clearly needs some drastic reform.  Fairness happens when a process is fair.  We urge Mayor-elect de Blasio to make political inclusion and participation key goals of his administration.



Below are notes by IPNYC Press Secretary Sarah Lyons from interviews after the election between Jackie Salit and the press:



Where is the NYC Independence Party headed post-election? 
The NYC Independence Party is part of a national movement concerned about the state of our political process and about political dysfunction -- a movement seeking nonpartisan reform.  We'll continue to pursue those reforms as we always have.

How we approach that with Bill de Blasio as Mayor is an open question.  After all, unlike Bloomberg, neither de Blasio nor the Working Families Party supports nonpartisan reform.  Quite the contrary.  But when you have a system that produces the lowest voter turnout in 96 years and a million independents locked out of the primaries, there is something very wrong with that system.

Adolfo Carrion received some 8,200 votes. How do you account for the low number of votes? 
First of all, this was the Year of the Donkey, meaning that after 20 years' exile from City Hall, the Democratic Party was going to win the mayoralty under virtually any circumstances.  Consequently, the mayoral election really took place in the Democratic primary, which the city's one million independents were banned from voting in.  To break through for an independent in the Year of the Donkey was nearly Mission Impossible.

That said, the Independence Party took a shot.  We chose not to run a fusion campaign.  We supported Adolfo Carrion, a political leader who is a man of color who had held public office, and served in the Obama administration, but who left the Democratic Party to become an independent.  He is a reformer who came up against huge resistance from all corners of the political marketplace.  The systemic change of nonpartisan elections that we sought during the Bloomberg years would have leveled the playing field in this election.  But, that hasn't been achieved yet.  So the election was tilted from the outset in favor of the major party candidates.


Independence Party members protest exclusion of Carrion from ABC debate
Carrion was excluded from the debates, marginalized by much of the media, and didn't have the financial wealth that Bloomberg had to overcome the differential of being an independent in a town in which the Democratic Party runs the show.  Many of his donors were afraid to support him as an independent, afraid of retribution from the Democrats. 





The fact that de Blasio refused to debate Carrion meant that the Democrats wanted to give the public no opportunity to consider another progressive option.  All of that meant the odds were severely stacked against Adolfo.  We knew that going in.  But we felt it was important to support a Latino independent looking to shake up the system and to carve out a new option.  Don't make the mistake of underestimating the 8,200 people who voted for Carrion this year.  Those who did made a very forward-looking statement about resisting the Democratic Party monopoly on progressive politics.  They are the nucleus or the core of a bottom-up independent movement.  All the independent votes we got for Mike Bloomberg were hugely important, they gave him a mandate for nonpartisan leadership, but they were votes for a winner. Everyone who voted for Carrion knew he couldn't win, but they voted for him to build something.
http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3235/2741856823_e04b898ae0.jpgWon't the low vote total make people look askance at the Independence Party?
People have always looked askance at the IP, whether we got 150,000 votes, as we did for Bloomberg in 2009, or under 10,000 votes, so that isn't an issue for me.  I'm used to the political class looking askance at us.  Actually, I like it when they do.  
Does this vote total mean that the Independence Party's message is invalid? 

No. First of all, most New Yorkers didn't know Adolfo Carrion was running, they never got the message. But more than that, the main way that voters displayed their dislike with the system and their major party options this year was by staying home.  This year's voter turnout was the lowest it's been in 97 years.  That's shocking!  Everybody should look askance at that!  

IP is part of a very young movement that is in its infancy.  The Working Families Party, now being touted as having eclipsed the IP as the major minor party in New York City, is not an independent party.  It's an arm of the Democratic Party.  The Democratic Party has had a 200-year head start over the independents.  We are playing a long game, and this campaign was one moment in that long game.

We shouldn't forget that New York isn't even a bipartisan town, it's a one-party town.  The Republican Party did poorly because it has no message and no soul.  The Independence Party has both, but it's young, it's under-funded, it's considered illegitimate and it's operating in a city that is run by one party.


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A note from The Hankster:

In a one-party town, what do you do? You organize, and build build build. It was a pleasure working with all of you on the campaign. Onward!

NH

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