Monday, October 10, 2005

Bloomberg and Ferrer—what's a New York Democrat to do?

So we New Yorkers have our two major-party mayoral candidates worked out: incumbent Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer. Bloomberg, presumed dead in the water earlier this year, is currently the favorite in this election, and will probably win a second term. Some might think it unusual that New York, one of the most Democratic spots in the United States, would not only elect Republicans as mayors, but that it would be on the brink of electing a Republican for the fourth time in a row.

Indeed, New York City hasn’t gone for a Republican presidential candidate since Calvin Coolidge, some 81 years ago. But out mayors: notably LaGuardia, Lindsey, Giuliani and now Bloomberg, are sometimes Republicans. Really, I wouldn’t call this unusual. While national Republican politics are usually far from liberal, New York City politics are quite different. Mayor Giuliani was a Republican, sure, but he never would have won that office if he weren’t in favor of gay rights, abortion rights, and spending on public works projects. Same with Mike Bloomberg.

Me, I’m a Democrat, and I haven’t voted for a Republican since I was living in my native Pennsylvania and voted for Tom Ridge for governor in 1994. For the next six years, I would have voted for a Republican that I liked, but one that I liked never came up on any ballot after that. And after 2000, I figured I wouldn’t vote for a Republican on principle, since the party had been taken over by Bush, and so a vote for a Republican was a vote to strengthen the Bush agenda, and I couldn’t tolerate that. Hell, Clinton and Reagan tolerated dissent in their parties, but Bush is different, and I can’t tolerate that. With Bush in office, I couldn’t bring myself to back any Republicans at all. It was just too dangerous, and I still think that’s an appropriate synopsis.

But now, with apparent fractiousness in the Republican Party, it might be time to reconsider. Furthermore, on the local level, it’s understandable to vote for a member of a party you might not approve of nationally. Should I consider voting to reëlect Mayor Bloomberg? I’m actually willing to do so. On the whole, he’s been a decent mayor, funding public works, keeping education afloat (though New York City schools need loads of work,) and he keeps well clear of the grating imperiousness of the Giuliani administration. And, in light of the fact that I think that the Democratic nominee Ferrer is a buffoon, I have to say that I think that Bloomberg is the more attractive option, even though his party still makes me gag.

But I can’t do it! No, it’s not that he’s a Republican; on the mayoral level, I’m sure I’m over that. No, what bothers me is the fact that Bloomberg poured loads of time and money into constructing a new stadium for the New York Jets football team, which he wanted to build on the already-crowded West Side of Manhattan. This would have been a civic nightmare, clogging traffic and consigning real estate that could have been used for something better to do duty as a stadium for a team that already has one! I mean, if Bloomberg wanted to build this stadium in Queens or somewhere where there’s wide open space that could accommodate the traffic and parking and increased stress on mass transit then I’d have been all for it, but as it was, he had to push for this ill-planned stadium, and so I can’t forgive him enough to vote for him.

However, I can’t bring myself to pull the lever for Ferrer, either. So what I’m planning to do is to write in Congressman Anthony Weiner, the runner-up in the Democratic primary, whom I voted for in that primary—unless someone can convince me otherwise. For now, that doesn’t seem likely. But four weeks from tomorrow, I’m going to have to have made up my mind.

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