I'M A SECOND-CLASS CITIZEN
The New York Democratic Party has disenfranchised me.
It has made me and my neighbors second-class citizens, doomed to be lorded over and taxed by a body in which we have no representation.
And nobody cares.
Nobody will even complain.
I live in an Assembly district represented by a Republican.
That means I have no rights.
It also means, as the Assembly picks a new speaker over the next two weeks, that my district and my party – indeed, my whole part of the state – will have no voice.
The Democratic Party says it is the champion of minority voting rights. Yet I am a political minority and this same Democratic Party has made sure that I have no representation whatsoever.
Republicans not only don’t have a seat at the table in the Assembly, they’re not even allowed in the room.
This has been made crystal clear in recent days as the Assembly has reacted to the arrest for bribery and extortion of its Democratic speaker. The top man in the Assembly for two decades, Sheldon Silver is accused of feloniously pocketing some $6 million over 12 years.
This got him a set of handcuffs and a seat in the back of an FBI car.
And after a struggle, it also seems to have gotten him an early departure as speaker.
Uneager to lose either the title or the $41,000 bonus that goes with it, Silver is being dragged kicking and screaming out the door.
A vote of the Democratic caucus in the Assembly has said that he has to be gone by next Monday and that there will be an official vote on his replacement on February 10. Over recent days, backstage deal making and horse trading have been constant as between three and five serious candidates to replace Sheldon Silver jockey for primacy.
Within the Democratic caucus – the group of Democrats in the Assembly – people are pushing geographic, philosophical and racial priorities, insisting that the new speaker be from the right faction or the right part of the state or the right race.
Following these unfolding developments, reporters have counted noses the best they can to see who’s moving to the fore.
But they’re not counting all the noses.
And the Assembly Democrats are making sure of that.
Let me explain.
In the New York Assembly – controlled by downstate Democrats for generations – Republicans aren’t allowed to take part.
Oh, they get offices, small ones. And desks, old ones. But they don’t get to introduce or amend legislation. And though they can stand up and debate, they cannot convince.
The Democratic caucus does all the thinking and deciding.
First off, only Democratic bills come up for a vote. But before they do, the Democratic caucus – behind closed doors – has decided that they will. And the only bills that get voted on are Democrat-sponsored legislation that has already been decided will pass.
A bill has not been defeated in the New York Assembly in something like 50 years. And a Republican-authored bill has not been brought up for a vote in almost as long.
It’s one party rule, and my district isn’t represented by somebody in that party.
So my right of effective representation is denied – by the Democratic Party.
Me, and millions of New Yorkers like me.
And now that a generation of corruption is potentially being rooted out, and the leader who will define the Assembly going forward is being chosen, New Yorkers like me have no voice.
Republican members of the Assembly aren’t part of the discussion. In fact, they were told to go home while the Democrats stayed in the Capitol and debated.
The speaker they choose will be the speaker of their party, but not the speaker of the Assembly – because they have disenfranchised more than a quarter of Assembly members.
The vote on who will be the next speaker will be a vote of Democrats – period. They will decide, and then they will force it down the throats of New Yorkers statewide.
There are 106 Democrats in the Assembly, and there are 44 Republicans. But the speaker won’t be chosen by a vote of the 150, he will be chosen by a vote of the 106 – the Democrats.
As the Democratic caucus tries to forge a winning alliance out its disparate membership, the 44 votes of the Republicans will sit on the side, marginalized and forgotten.
Which means that every one of their constituents will also be marginalized and forgotten. That means I will be marginalized and forgotten.
Arguably the most powerful position in state government, and vast stretches of the state have no say on who fills it, and no electoral participation in the final selection.
It’s as if those of us who live in Republican-represented districts have been told to sit down and shut up. We’ve been told that we don’t count. That our representatives don’t even need to be in town.
I’m a second-class citizen, denied effective representation in my own state legislature.
By the New York Democratic Party.
So much for caring about people’s rights.
- by Bob Lonsberry © 2015