A little known fact : even though New York has had its fair share of Democratic governors, its state government has been in the clutches of the Republicans for 150 years. The only two times the state government was all blue were in 1932 and 1964. Teddy Roosevelt said once that 'the state Senate is constitutionally Republican'; it's not, but it's been reliably Republican since that party was founded in the 1850s.
It's probably the main reason so many groups have come together to fundraise on Thursday, February 1st, for Craig Johnson.
Organizations like NARAL, PFAW, the Human Rights Campaign, Democracy for NYC, the Council for Urban Professionals and others are working together for this event. It's the first time though, that the local blogosphere is an active participant in an election of this kind. The Albany Project, ON NY Turf, Rochester Turning, Swing State Project, our labor of love The Daily Gotham and others are stepping in from the outside to help anchor an event like this. Which, may I add, is in and of itself unprecedented.
Another little known detail about the Albany political machine : Incumbency has become the product of anti-democratic redistricting shenanigans.
It is outrageous that NYC, the single
largest demographic in the state, does not have proportional representation in Albany. This is because for years Republicans have been able to pass legislation that favors their districts.
Only in New York would you have majority white and Republican districts inflate their demographics by counting their prison population. This is what The New York Times has to say about the practice :
Ending the Prison Windfall - New York Times editorial | Prisoners of the Census
Inmates are denied the right to vote in all but two states. But state lawmakers treat them as residents of the prisons when drawing legislative maps, to inflate the head count in lightly populated rural areas where prisons are typically built. This creates legislative districts where none would ordinarily be, shifting political influence from the heavily populated urban districts where inmates live.
Once inflated, these towns and counties siphon an outsized portion of state and federal aid. Politicians in districts with prisons sometimes brag openly about the windfall, as they mock "constituents" who are powerless to remove them from office and are packed onto buses and driven hundreds of miles to their real homes the minute
they leave the prison walls.
The repercussions of this particular practice are atrocious : Mostly white and lightly populated areas upstate are being turned into districts on the backs of a prison population that is not only mostly black and latino and poor, but a product of the Rockefeller Laws that have thrown many a first time drug felon into upstate jails with 25-to-life jail sentences. Prisoners of the Census is an apt name for the countless men and women who are being used as electoral pawns.
So when I was asked to lend my hand for this election, the first thing to come to mind was, "Why should I care about a guy in Long island running for a seat in a predominantly white and Republican district?
Well, given Spitzer has made election reform a priority, there is an even more compelling reason to plant the seeds with this election for a Democratic majority in 2008.
With Spitzer's commitment to reform Albany and, among other things, vow to end the atrocious practice of "census farming" through prisos, people have come knocking on his door to lend their support. No wonder the campaign manager of Congressman Keith Ellison is working on this campaign. Yes, the "I am swearing on Jefferson's Koran and don't you try to stop me" Ellison, junior Congressman of Minnesota.
No wonder the list of people involved and coming to this event is an amazing mashup of the netroots, grassroots and establishment who's who in New York. The exciting prospect of dismantling the system that has kept a mostly corrupt state government in power is proving to be contagious.
So here's what we are asking you to do :
BUY A TICKET FOR THE EVENT
Pardon my french but this could very well end up being a clusterf00k of NYC bloggers. To all you networking divas and dillettantes, tomorrow is the night to crack open a box of business cards, fire up your Sidekicks and Blackberries and take stock of the who's who of New York City politics.
Raising New York with Eliot Spitzer
Feb 1 2007 - 6pm
4 West 22nd Street
Can't pay the $50? Don't worry. Just get your ass over there and donate whatever you can. That's what the netroots is all about after all, right? Bring four more friends who are willing to donate $5, $10, $20 --whatever it takes, it's the active participation (and not just the intention) that counts.
Oh, and just so you know, PreyNYC has free wifi. If you want to bring your laptop and liveblog, we'd be happy to set you up at the bloggers table.
If you can't make it to the event, you can still come to either The Albany Project, The Daily Gotham or On NY Turf and check out the final lists of blogs that will be participating online in this event. You will also find at our blogs information on where to join the IRC chat. I will also be opening tomorrow the new culturekitchen CAFE chat, which I will be using to liveblog the event with anybody else who would like to drop by.
You can also donate online. Go to Craig Johnson's site and give what you can ... but make your donation different this time.
Remember Chris Bowers' The One-Way Flow Of Progressive Movement Money post? This post confirmed all my fears about fundraising and gave me another reason to detest it. Yet, being a member of the reality-based community, I understand why fundraising is so needed.
Which is why I'd like you to consider this : If you come to the party tomorrow or you decide to donate online, I'd like you to take the time to leave a comment on the open liveblogging threads we will have at the hosting blogs. I'd like you to take a moment and leave a note to the 'consultants'.
Yes. I'd like you to take a moment and tell them how'd you like to see your money used. I am asking you to use wisely the access Brian, Phillip, Michael, Will and all the bloggers in NYC have to these consultants at the moment. I'd like you to seize the moment and tell them how you feel about the issues Bowers raised on his post.
I think it's really important there's a dialogue and a discussion between supporters and workers. Especially because, as this campaign has confirmed it, these 'consultants' or managers or whatever you want to call them, work all around the country to work with candidates big and small.
Even if you are out in Iowa, Missouri or Alaska, this is an opportunity for all of you to have us hand deliver your comments, criticisms and concerns. Seize the moment and use it wisely.
Thanks so much to have taken the time to read this post. If you are in NYC, come on downtown to hang out with Spitzer, Johnson and the netroots. If you can't make it to 22nd Street, make a donation of any kind, and get online to network, chat, mingle and help the NYC netroots show how local politics needs to be a national priority for the Democratic Party.
See you tomorrow online and off. Feel fre to drop me a line at nyc/dot/blogdiva/at/gmail/dot/com.