WHY I AM VOTING FOR BILL THOMPSON
It's Election Day. Today we as voters have an opportunity to elect a new mayor, but, perhaps more importantly, show why we are a democracy. I can only speak for myself, so here are the many reasons why I am voting for Bill Thompson, and also my reasons why I will not, now or ever again, vote for Mike Bloomberg.
1. Term Limits
This blog, many newspapers, and other commentators, writers, TV shows etc. have written about this issue at length, so I'll write only about a lost point in the term limits argument: The Mayor purposely ran out the clock last year regarding a ballot initiative. There was plenty of time for this to get on the ballot, and what a great ballot it would have been on: The 2009 Presidential Election.
Normally, a presidential election always draws the highest turnout of the 4-year election cycle. But last year's was more significant because not only did it draw large numbers to the polls, but it had done what few other elections in recent history have done: it motivated numerous people of many ages to register and vote for the first time in their adult lives. Imagine how extra special last year's election would have been if these same voters got a say, a real say, in the way we elect our municipal representatives. Mayor Bloomberg denied these new voters a chance to have a say in the matter of term limits.
And to add insult to injury, in a year when we really needed the mayoral election to focus on more pressing, day-to-day issues like unemployment and the collapse of the economy; homelessness; true checks and balances with the Dept of Education and obliteration of parental rights in schools; police abuse of civil rights; abuse of eminent domain; and so much more...here we are harping most on this issue. This is not to say that the terms limits issue is less important, but when I see people struggling to make ends meet, that can't get their children enrolled in school until a MONTH after classes begin, that are desperate to find work, their 401Ks destroyed, and on and on and on…and here we are talking about term limits.
So for diminishing last year's historic elections and for making voters have to focus on something that should have been a non-issue, I am voting for Bill Thompson.
2. Campaign Spending
It really is a total abuse of the system when a candidate can spend this $100 million. During the second debate the mayor called on Comptroller Thompson to give money back to certain contributors. While many focused on Thompson I thought about how just how easy it was for the Mayor to say this. I don’t have a problem with the Mayor or any candidate self-financing a campaign, but I do have a problem when a candidate won’t accept contributions from supporters. Maybe I am in the minority here, but contributions are a way to gauge the support of a candidate. It’s why there are minimum, not just maximum, thresholds in the Campaign Finance rules of the CFB. If the mayor had allowed for people to willingly contribute to his campaign, and if he accepted the same spending limits as his opponents, I do believe we would see an incumbent get trounced tomorrow, and if not, at least no one would argue that this election is anything but about money.
The $100 million doesn’t include his other spending, how he found his own special loophole in NY State’s election laws by buying support through insane amounts of money given or donated to nonprofits, churches, media outlets (more on media later) and other candidates in other cities, effectively buying their participation, support and endorsements. We are now seeing long-time staunch supporters of the Democratic Party turn their back on the party that, over time, was at the forefront for fighting for their own rights to be who they are and do business as they see fit. For all our shortcomings as Democrats, we have accomplished much over time in regards to many of the freedoms some of us now accept as part of our daily lives.
All for a lousy, quick buck.
Each of these organizations, elected officials, clergy, and business owners will have to learn to live with themselves so I won’t pass judgment, but for every one of them that thinks their constituents, clients, parishioners, and employees are better off for their actions, I can’t help thinking of the old saying, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
So here was the mayor asking the Comptroller to give the money back. It would have sounded far better if the Mayor had taken contributions so people could gauge his true support, or at least capped his spending to the approved spending limits set by the CFB. So for all the above, I will not vote for Mike Bloomberg, and because Bill Thompson stuck it out, raised money, and in doing so put himself through the rigors of campaign finance rules, again I say I will vote for Bill Thompson.
3. Buying the Media Off
The history of the media’s role in the current election may never get the proper attention because much of the media has been compromised, and for some like myself even the little trust that I once had is now shattered. It will be up to good government groups, case writers, students, and uncompromised academics to write the history of today and help future generations learn from the current state of affairs in municipal government.
At the time that the three major daily newspapers met with Bloomberg to secure their endorsement for overturning term limits, an important bit of news was simultaneously happening: Newspapers, as an industry, were in deep trouble, and in cities all around the country, they were going under, and this was occurring even in the “good” years of our economy. Many blame this on the Internet, others blame it on newspapers trying to fit their existing models into emerging technologies. Heck, if they had their way, this blog would probably not exists because they weren’t too happy about that either (who do we think we are?).
But the media is a business, and as a business it must turn a profit or at least break even to survive. So here we have a billionaire that twice before has shown willingness to spend insane amounts of money on ad buys, and at the same time the media looking at the sea of red on their balance sheets and future projects. Do people really believe they backed up Bloomberg’s plan to overturn term limits because it was the right thing to do? And is it any mere coincidence that, just as the election season is winding down that NY Times is announcing massive layoffs in their staff? Could it be that the big ad bucks they were getting for about a year now were no longer going to be arriving in barrels, so they couldn’t afford to keep these people?
This is all speculation, and I have no real proof that this happened, but based on what I have read in these same papers, who needs proof?
You have the Daily News writing articles about unscientific polls—yet drawing conclusions and opinions as though their work was indeed done by the best of pollsters, all to make the point that Thompson is unknown (I could have done the same thing but come up with the same number of people that have never heard about or care about Mike Bloomberg, as long as we are being admittedly unscientific).
Or the NY Times writing an article about the Thompson’s campaign being disorganized or undisciplined, while at the same time pretty much admitting that comparing the Thompson campaign to the Bloomberg campaign is like comparing apples to oranges.
Or the NY Post’s article today that tries to just hint at Thompson being an anti-Semite.
The newspapers reported on former mayor Giuliani’s inflammatory (but predictable) comments about former mayor Dinkins, shamelessly picking at scars to make them bleed again—but where was the real outrage by the editors of the three dailies to pressure Bloomberg to renounce Giuliani’s comments?
These reporters tried to create news through innuendo and conjecture, instead of reporting it, and I will never believe it’s because they had a real choice to do so. Their paycheck depended on it and that of all their colleagues. Bloomberg knew these media outlets had little choice but to go along with his plans if they wanted to buy themselves another year of existence, but little choice is better than no choice. So, for how he ripped apart the public’s trust in the media to report real news, I will never vote for Mike Bloomberg.
As for why I would vote for Thompson because of the above: I think of the NY Times article that tries to paint the Thompson campaign as a bunch of amateurs and then think of myself. I know what it’s like to struggle at trying to get things right, and meaning well but sometimes being disorganized, rough around the edges, and not dotting every “i" or crossing every “t”. I know what it’s like to pair up with others like me who share the same struggles, and I find that when I team up with them, we together accomplish much, and maybe we don’t do our thing with the same panache as others, but then again who says we don’t? Why exist and work based on the standards created by others?
The Bloomberg campaign has no passion. I’ll take the stumblers over the skaters any day of the week. Thompson has always been a guy I can sit down with, have a beer, and let my hair down (figuratively speaking of course). After 16 years of mayors that I cannot identify with on any level, I need someone that can really get me.
4. Political Parties
Mayor Bloomberg has long wanted to end political party lines on ballots. He, once a democrat, became a registered republican, then to become an independent. If he is truly independent, why not take that line on the ballot? Could it be that it would be much further down the ballot than the republican line?
Bloomberg is running on the republican line and that means, for me, that he has abandoned the democratic party, the same party that made history a year ago. Understand that I am not ashamed of being a democrat, but I can be ashamed at some that represent my party (and by the same token, can equally be ashamed of republicans without being ashamed that I have friends and family that are republicans). Mike Bloomberg essentially bought the republican line when he had a choice to run as a true independent, so democrats should treat him as a republican. Am I too black & white on this issue? Yes, and that’s fine by me. I will vote for Thompson because he’s a democrat, and this is a great time to be a democrat and vote democrat (and that includes a vote for John Lui as Comptroller and Bill DeBlasio for Public Advocate). And after 8 years of Bush and 8 years of Giuliani, I have had enough of republicans for a long time.
I know there are few undecided voters out there so if my post reaches any of you, I hope it influences you to vote for Thompson. For the record, I am not on the Thompson payroll, but I did make a contribution to his campaign. It doesn’t make me bias or compromised, or a hack for his campaign. The one and only thing it does is make me a believer in him as our next mayor.
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