Friday, July 10, 2009

Scum of the Earth, I Believe

Well, next month marks the 70th anniversary of the Hitler-Stalin Pact (I am sure that Greater New York will have a proper post or two about it then), and when I think of the pact, the first thing that usually comes to mind is the famous David Low cartoon, with Hitler and Stalin smiling and doffing their caps to one another over the prostrate body of Poland, exchanging pleasantries: “The scum of the earth, I believe” says Hitler to Stalin’s “The Bloody Assassin of the Workers” I Presume. “ No invidious comparisons are intended, but was hard not to think of this exchange yesterday, listening to Pedro Espada’s press conference, on how he has returned to the fold of the Democratic Party, having double crossed his original colleagues in double crossing, and is now the Senate Majority Leader. (Scum, as Hitler would say, rises to the top.)

So after a month of denouncing Espada as the personification and epitome of all political rottennesses, the Democrats now have to look to him as their leader. I have felt from the beginning that the Republicans are basically to blame for this mess, and their desperate efforts to cling to power, but now the Democrats are equally tarnished. One thing is clear, the long-term solution to the problem cannot possibly be generated from within the senate itself. “Reform” is a bootless and footless phrase, signifying nothing. Both parties will be hurt by this; but New York State politics is uniquely straightjacketed into a political system that demands that power be shared equally by both the Democrats and the Republicans, and over time this has reduced both parties to ideological meaninglessness. There is a tradition of third parties in New York State; the Progressive Party (in three incarnations), American Labor Party, Liberal Party, Conservative Party, Working Families Party over time they are reduced to insignificance, become an adjunct to the major parties, or become part of the problem. It is time for a revitalization of the third party tradition in New York State, one that sees its purpose of providing a genuine political alternative. Any party that makes Pedro Espada one of its most powerful leaders is not my party, and please don’t try to convince me otherwise.

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