Tag Archives: NY 19

My Delgado Endorsement (Part 2)

So that’s the endorsement.  Now, as promised, comes the self-critique which being applicable to myself is by definition of no general interest.  That said, it is worth discussing in that my specific circumstances are fairly typical in at least one important respect of my rough cultural, social and economic class.  In particular, those in our class position have a particular set of privileges and among these is being able to make political choices and to publicly express them without too much concern for the consequences of doing so. These include, as some of us have chosen, radical politics.

It is, of course, never easy to make sacrifices-to take positions which challenge those with real economic, social and political power which is what if means to be a radical, after all. However, it is much easier to do so if one has resources which can cushion their impact. By resources I mean that in the most material sense, namely, access to capital: not income but accumulated wealth-both personal and family-which can be drawn on if, for example, one is fired from one’s job due to expressing one’s political beliefs, or isn’t hired in the first place. Of course, no one likes living on the margins, but the cost of being a “luftmensch” can be born by those with resources. Those who don’t have these can’t make the sacrifice and will rarely make it.

Continue reading My Delgado Endorsement (Part 2)

My Delgado Endorsement (Part 1)

I’m going to couch my endorsement of Antonio Delgado in the form of a moderate self-critique. Before I issue it in part 2, I’ll put on the table what I told a canvasser for Delgado months ago and have repeated to anyone who’s asked since, including to Delgado himself. And that is that anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of politics should have an inherent distrust of a candidate fitting Delgado’s profile: a white collar criminal defense lawyer from a notorious union busting firm whose multimillion dollar war chest was overwhelmingly acquired from the finance sector including massive contributions from Goldman Sachs employees and other unsavory corporate entities. Based on Thomas Ferguson’s golden rule of politics, I fully expect that Delgado’s tenure in office will be largely responsive to these interests.

This will not be an issue so much in his first term. Should he be elected, Delgado can be expected to vote party line on whatever initiatives the Democrats pursue to scale back the Trump  juggernaut. Where the rubber will meet the road will be in 2020 should a progressive Democrat representing the Sanders wing of the party take the presidency. The first hundred days initiatives will be key, with congressional votes on Medicare for All, banking reform, higher taxation on upper incomes, repeal of the carried interest deduction, maybe even (my own personal hope) the initiatiation of a wealth tax.

It is reasonable to assume that Delgado’s votes will reflect the views of those who financed his campaign. And that will mean a “no” on most if not all of these. In other words, he and others like him will, as the saying goes, “dance with those who brung him.” The likelihood that he will change partners is small if history is any guide. The result will be the failure of the progressive agenda in 2021.

This will, however, send a message, now stronger than ever, that the neoliberal wing of the Democratic Party will need to be displaced.

Based on that, if the progressive wing has developed the kind of organizational infrastructure necessary to do so, all candidates fitting this profile will receive primary challenges in 2022. Delgado is likely to be one of these and I will be pleased to support and work for whoever his challenger is. We should be working to recruit him or her now.

At the moment, however, it should be all hands on deck for Delgado. I therefore strongly endorse not only voting for him, but working with as much enthusiasm as possible for his campaign, as I myself am doing.

On Voting and Responsibility: The Green Temptation in NY 19

A recent WAMC debate between the candidates in the closely contested New York 19th congressional district was a surprise in that, according to many of my friends from across the political spectrum, it was won by a candidate few had heard of, the Green Party’s Steve Greenfield.

It is likely, even certain, that some of those impressed by Greenfield’s performance will support him at the polls next week thereby taking votes away from the Democrat Antonio Delgado to the benefit of the Republican John Faso.

One outcome, however, is certain: whoever wins, it won’t be Greenfield who will acquire no more than a small fraction of the total votes.

Continue reading On Voting and Responsibility: The Green Temptation in NY 19

NY 19 Revisited: Should Progressives Support Pat Ryan?

I’m glad that my piece on the NY 19 congressional sweepstakes provoked at least a small amount of conversation. As expected that included criticism–some of it quite harsh. One of those taking issue with it was Tim Hunter, a member of the Gardiner Democratic Town Committee who denounced it as “betray(ing) a shocking lack of political understanding.”

What irked Mr Hunter was my raising questions about the committee’s endorsed candidate, Pat Ryan, specifically his commitment to progressive legislation. I got it wrong, according to Mr. Hunter. Ryan, is, in his words, “A Progressive Chris Gibson. YES, progressive!”

I’m sorry if it upsets Mr. Hunter to hear this, but it needs to be said that the assertions of Democratic Party leaders (even local ones) have long since ceased to be sufficient. Progressives such as myself now require evidence and, with respect to Pat Ryan, there is little which gives any indication of a serious commitment to progressive politics.

Furthermore, there is at least one indication of the exact opposite, namely Ryan offering to spy on left wing activists and unions for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as mentioned in the Intercept piece linked to in my article.

We also have the matter of Ryan’s participation in the great war crime and atrocity which was the Iraq invasion. Ryan, a West Point grad, was required to serve. Relevant here is that some courageous veterans also served but then actively spoke out in opposition, most notably in the winter soldier hearings of March 2008. Ryan did not, nor is there any record of his supporting those who did.

Then there’s the issue of Ryan’s having accepted by now over $1 million in contributions, some of these from some of the most unsavory sources, namely, Palantir corporation headed by the extreme right wing billionaire Peter Thiel. Ryan, to be fair, has distanced himself from Thiel whom he has correctly characterized as “a lunatic.” But the presence of more conventionally predatory private equity outfits such Lone Pine Capital or white shoe law and lobbying firms certainly doesn’t inspire confidence of Ryan’s commitment to challenge the power of the 1%.

For these reasons and others I’m not willing to accept on face value Mr. Hunter’s characterization of Ryan as a progressive. What I am willing to accept (political hyperbole aside) are Mr. Hunter’s assurances that Ryan “is a local product. War hero, and job creator.”


That said, it’s worth noting an oddity which is that Mr. Hunter seems to assume that “jobs creator” will be taken as an accolade.

Is he not aware that this was the exact phrase the Republicans deployed in 2012 to promote the candidacy of billionaire investor Mitt Romney and to justify his proposal for another round of tax cuts to their 1% base?

We’re all familiar with the characterization of the Democrats as Eisenhower Republican party of 1950s, the Gerald Ford Republicans of 1970 and even the Bob Dole Republican Party of the 1990s. But the post G.W. Bush, ultra-right Republican Party of 2011?

Suffice to say that this sort of rhetoric (1) recalls nothing so much as Harry Truman’s classic remark that “If it’s a choice between a genuine Republican, and a Republican in Democratic clothing, the people will choose the genuine article, every time.”

I’ll conclude this with a disclosure which might surprise Mr. Hunter: I am by no mean opposed to Mr. Ryan’s candidacy, and could very well end up supporting it. But if I do, I will be for the legitimate argument he provides, namely that Ryan may well be the candidate most able to accomplish what we all agree is absolutely crucial: defeating John Faso.

If that’s so, there is a strong basis for supporting him.

I may very well do so albeit with the expectation-as alluded to in my piece-that real progressive change will require his being primaried in 2022 with a candidate who does not just give lip service to the Sanders agenda, but demonstrates in his votes that he is truly committed to it.

In the meantime, if the Ryan campaign expects to convince those of us in the Sanders camp to support him, I would urge them to remember what they have learned in kindergarten and seem to have forgotten: honesty, as always, is the best policy.


1)I would have been hesitant to raise this objection had not another commenter on the same Facebook thread referred to her preferred candidate, the former Citigroup executive Bryan Flynn, in nearly identical terms. Outraged by my description of his firm’s having outsourced jobs to low wage North Carolina-not to mention still lower waged Dominican Republic, this commenter suggests that Flynn “is totally progressive and interested in creating jobs opportunities and businesses . . .(but)  he should not be expected to stand and watch his business erode and not generate a profit . . . we can try to change what is to create jobs and opportunities.” John Faso would, of course, agree with this sentiment while also ridiculing Flynn for his hypocrisy.

NY 19 From the Left: Who to Vote for and Why

A few of my Hudson Valley friends who read my political postings have asked for my choices in the upcoming Democratic primary in Northern Dutchess County.

I’ll be happy to provide them in the following, albeit at the end. You’re welcomed to skip to them but I hope that you will consider engaging in what I regard as a more important conversation than who we pull the lever for on June 26: how one should negotiate this and other biennial and quadrennial “electoral extravaganzas”, as Chomsky refers to them.

Continue reading NY 19 From the Left: Who to Vote for and Why