The Rockaway Irregular by Stuart W. Mirsky
It pays to look at the mayor’s own history here. A lifelong Democrat, Mayor Mike only switched parties when it was clear he’d never have a shot at winning the Democratic party nomination because of the long line of professional Democratic pols ahead of him. And so he opted to move into what is essentially the shell of a Republican party in New York City (there’s a 5-1 ratio of registered Democrats to Republicans in this town) and claim its nomination. Had so-called bipartisan elections been the law in the city, as he now wants, Mayor Mike could have happily remained in his party of choice instead of co-opting a party that, on the local level, is all but vestigial and certainly doesn’t reflect the policies he’s most comfortable with. So we got a Democrat in Republican clothing whose solutions to the city’s problems have been to raise our taxes, impose harsh new fees and increase intrusion into our private lives by pushing anti-smoking laws, restricting public access to our beaches, etc. Would it have been better if Mayor Mike could have run without changing party affiliations? No doubt we’d have had a better idea of what we were getting. But that’s no argument for this "bipartisan" proposal.
Mayor Mike’s predecessor, Rudy Giuliani, was in some ways more clearly a Republican, though like the present mayor he started political life as a Democrat. (Me too, so I can have no argument with this!) But for all the good things Giuliani did in this city, and they were legion, he failed to build a Republican organization beyond his own personal team and affiliations. This left the city’s Republicans bereft of an organization or mayoral contender with enough clout or political prospects to contest Mr. Bloomberg’s "acquisition" of the party apparatus when he needed a ballot line in the last mayoral election. Here in Rockaway we saw this problem in spades last winter when the Gateway Republican Club, the only active organization of its type in this community, shut down for the second time in a generation for lack of interest.
What Republicans are still to be found in New York City are embedded in various safe and scattered districts (Rockaway not included!), with little interest in the politics of this city beyond their local district borders. That we have had two Republican mayors since the early nineties is no testament to the party’s strength but, rather, to its weakness since it has become little more than a vehicle for high visibility politicians seeking to find an alternative platform to the existing Democratic organization. Lacking any solid structure or local viewpoint of its own, New York City’s Republican "organization" is now little more than a corporate shell, like those purchased in the financial world for their names or other marketable assets.
The current "bipartisan elections" proposal won’t address this. Rather, it will put the final nail in the loyal opposition’s coffin. Instead of needing a Republican line, maverick Democrats, who want to bypass their own political party’s organization and jump straight to a high profile electoral position, will no longer need to even pretend to be Republicans and the only serious opposition party in this city will finally wither away completely. Voting for the "bipartisan elections" revision to the City Charter is a ticket to increased Democratic dominance in this city because the choice between competing philosophies offered by the two parties will be lost in an environment that will convert our electoral process to a glorified Democratic primary as competing Democrats, advocating bigger government and the higher taxes to fund it, hog the ballot box, crowding out those who genuinely believe in something different.
What can we do besides voting "no" on the proposed "bipartisan elections" proposal? Well, we can also work to rebuild the loyal opposition in this town. Recently, representatives from the Republican Liberty Caucus in Texas contacted me about helping to rebuild a Republican grassroots organization in New York that reflects a commitment to time-honored Republican principles: smaller government, dedication to individual liberty, lower taxation and a central government that is committed to the things the founding fathers envisioned for it, like defending the nation. Anyone interested in joining a new Rockaway chapter of the Republican Liberty Caucus (hopefully before the Republican National convention scheduled to be held in New York next August) should contact the organization by e-mail address: rlc4 firstname.lastname@example.org. Anyone interested in contacting me directly, in relation to this or other articles, can do so at email@example.com. I’ll be delighted to respond, either on-line or in future columns!