11.06.2008 | Race over, a question of race

For all the talk of reaching across party lines during the presidential election, I'm sure Democrats in the New York state house didn't have this in mind: four rogue Democratic state senators in Albany are putting Democrats' control of the house in jeopardy by threatening to vote for a Republican majority leader, potentially spoiling the first chance Democrats have had of controlling the state house and governorship since the New Deal (that's about 80 years, give or take a few). So those are the stakes.

Why the mutiny? Three of the four senators are Latino, and the incoming majority leader is African-American. While none of the rebel senators claims to be angling for the majority leader post, in the words of Rubén Díaz (representing the Bronx):

"There’s a concern that we have a black president, a black governor and we have a concern that we have to be sharing power."

Excuse me? I'm all for striving for the ideal of racial balance, but can you honestly say that because there are people in power of one race, the interests of the other won't be represented?

Despite Democrats' best intentions to embrace diversity, this could be one area where the Affirmative Action mentality needs discarding. Especially in an election with this historic scope, people elected Democrats in record numbers to move the country in a different direction. Here four senators are ready to hand power back to the minority party, against the will of the voters, to push a racial agenda.

Why am I talking about a state house in Albany? Because what happens there could happen in Congress. With a woman as Speaker of the House and an African-American in the White House, I'm worried about racial or gender angst hindering the mandate of either of these people, or members of any race in positions of power in the future. (Though I have to admit: compared to where this nation has been, that's a pretty good worry to be having.)

Let's govern a nation of people, not races. There may be a valid argument in business for hiring equally qualified minorities to address lingering economic inequality, but in government everyone is equal before the law.

Obama's victory in traditionally red states is in itself evidence that white voters are moving past race in their voting decisions. So why the hangup among these Latinos? What can one race possibly do in power that the other one wouldn't do? Maybe I need an education here. Help me out.

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Blogger Meka said...

I completely agree with you. This is simply a case of racial self interest rearing it's ugly head.

I believe the new generations of Black being elected to office, whom I refer to as the post Jesse Jackson blacks, who tend to represent diverse or mostly white districts, are some of the best politicians we have. Why? Because they have learned to see past color lines and embrace a 'politic' of empathy, that understands the legitimate (and illegitimate) concerns of various ethnic groups. With nearly a quarter of black legislators in this country at the state and federal level representing constituencies in which their own race is not the majority, this group has relied upon crossing cultural and racial lines for its own survival. And, in my opinion, have come out as some of the best politicians you might say.

In regards to the Latino legislators in New York, and possibly beyond, there is feeling of growing pains. They are highly unrepresented in most ranks of power, with some of the weakest showing being in the Federal and State Governments. Thus, they are highly concerned with increasing their power foot print.

The good thing is, I believe the country is beginning to move past these types of barriers. The bad news, perhaps Latinos feel they are being left behind. But remember, it's been 30 years since the civil rights movement and 30 years for Black politics to reach it's current generation. Latinos simply need time to acclimate to this new climate. However, this does not mean that these legislators are excused for their actions. They should eschew this adversarial and destructive stance.

The country is moving forward. It's time to raise the social anchors of the past and embrace a racial politic based on logic and reason, not on scared assumption and power plays.

12:25 PM  

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