Let me start this off by saying that, honestly, there's a lot I like about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I think much of it these days is because she reminds me a lot of my girlfriend, who is also strongly feminist (like me), from a working class background (also like me; we work at the same store, which is how I met her earlier this year), really smart (unlike me), Latina (specifically her ancestry is Peruvian), and also has an adorable face that looks a lot like AOC's (except Jetzel's is even cuter!!), and furthermore happens to be about the same age as AOC. Now there are some things they lack in common for sure. For example, my girl's kind of against alcohol -- which is fine by me 'cause I don't drink much anyway -- whereas AOC used to work as a bartender, and Jetzel's also not a socialist like me. On that last point, her parents had some rather negative experiences with Shining Path Maoist rebels in Peru, which is why they moved to this country back in the '80s before she was born, and that's part of why on the one hand she's not a socialist but on the other hand also part of why she says she's been drawn to me, being as I'm an ex-Maoist of sorts who has, ya know, seen the real light. (Sorry, I'm just in love and enjoy talking about her. If you're reading this, I love you, Jetzel!!! ) But that brings me to one last thing they have in common, which is that they are both very authentic people. Speeches and remarks by AOC rarely sound scripted to my ears. Even her claim to socialism is more intellectually honest than that of so many other self-described "democratic socialists" today. Like for example, Bernie Sanders just advocates a New Deal-type paternalistic welfare state -- a concept that Marx described as "state capitalism" -- and claims on this basis to be a socialist. The countries he claims are his going models of applied "socialism" reject the label. Ocasio-Cortez, on the other hand, advocates some more genuinely socialistic ideas like workplace democracy. I have respect for those ideas and for the rare sincerity of her belief in them.
With that said though, one area where I absolutely disagree with AOC is on the issue of policing. And so do most of the people who elected her, it would appear, to judge by the results of the recent mayoral primary that encompassed her district.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez represents New York's 14th Congressional District, where she got more than 70% of the vote in both 2018 and 2020. The district encompasses the eastern part of the Bronx and portions of north-central Queens in New York City and is both the most ethnically diverse and poorest Congressional district in the country. Here's a map of her district. Now here's a map of the vote totals from the first round of balloting in New York's recent ranked-choice vote. You will notice that most of the overlapping precincts -- especially those in the Bronx -- were carried by former police captain Eric Adams, NOT by the candidate she endorsed, former Bill de Blasio adviser Maya Wiley. The precincts that did vote for Dr. Wiley notably tended to be whiter and more affluent than those that favored Adams.
That brings me to the larger picture of this keynote primary. Here's a map of New York City's various boroughs. Now here is a simplified map that shows the first-choice candidates of each of those boroughs. You will notice that, overall, Adams led from the outset in all of them save for affluent Manhattan, home of Wall Street and infamously among the most expensive places on Earth to live, and that even the people there preferred boring-ass Kathryn Garcia -- who ran as the normal-liberal status quo candidate with the endorsement of the New York Times and the Daily Mail -- over Wiley, who enjoyed the endorsements of Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders' Our Revolution group, and the aforementioned AOC. You will also notice that enthusiasm for Adams was greatest in the Bronx; the poorest slice of America. You will also also notice the agreement between the Bronx and the white working class Staten Island! In short, class, NOT race, was the main determining factor of how people voted in this election!!
So who is this Eric Adams? A black former police captain and community advocate from a blue collar background (his mother worked double-shifts as a house-cleaner and his father was a butcher) who was arrested for criminal trespassing with his brother at the age of 15 and barbarically beaten by NYPD officers until a black cop intervened; an experience that left him with post-traumatic stress disorder and a determination to become a police officer in order to reform police culture from within. The record shows that that is exactly what he subsequently did with his life. In addition to the usual fluffy stuff about better training and body cameras and all that, Adams advocated substantial changes to policing in the city including community involvement in the work of the NYPD and independent investigations into all allegations of police misconduct, among other things, and has consistently fought against policies and attitudes corresponding to racial profiling in policing. He was also, though, a very common-sensical law and order candidate who spent much of the campaign voicing opposition to Maya Wiley's proposed $1 billion cut to the city's police budget and calling for the reinstatement of cash-bail and solitary confinement and at one point even offered qualified support for the city's previous, controversial "stop-and-frisk" policy (which he once opposed outright), in addition to stricter gun laws. In calling for the active reintroduction of these certain crime-fighting policies, Adams stood out from the crowd of Democratic contenders vying for their party's nomination in an election that turned mostly on the issue of rising crime, and violent crime in particular. Outside of policing and criminal justice issues, Adams was also noted as a particularly vocal fighter against gentrification and for advocating veganism, which he credits with reversing his diabetes. All of his organizational endorsements came from labor unions, in which he led the field, NOT from activist groups.
How does a law-and-order candidate win a closed urban Democratic Party primary? How does he win AOC voters? The answer is by relying on his own good sense rather than on a comprehensive social theory of everything and advocating for unions and community interests and against reducing public services. That's right, folks, despite what you might have heard from some corners of Black Lives Matter, many would-be educators, and the progressive press, Democrats too broadly view policing as a needed public service that should be reformed, not a form of intractably race-based oppression, just as people in general do! 69% of Democratic primary voters in this election said they wanted more cops on subways to respond to double-digit percentage surges in violent crime (murders in particular) in recent years, for example! Likewise, Mayor de Blasio's decision to scrap plans to establish a new police precinct to serve the mostly-black neighborhood of Rosedale amid last year's BLM protest wave...and projected budgetary shortfalls owed to the coronavirus pandemic...was reversed immediately after the passage of Joe Biden's Covid relief Rescue Plan salvaged the city's budget because black and Hispanic residents loudly complained. In the words of the district's House Rep, her district's "size poses consistent challenges to fully serving neighborhoods in the southern half of its jurisdiction, resulting in long-standing disparities in response times and safety for the families of the district." Or, in other words, the absence of a closer police precinct makes life more dangerous, largely along racial lines!
Every poll has shown that Adams' support came predominantly from voters making less than $50,000 a year and those lacking a college degree; especially the black and Hispanic ones. By contrast, supporters of Garcia and Wiley typically make over $50,000 a year and have college degrees. Also, while the fact that there were two major candidates vying to become NYC's first female mayor in this race, it's worth pointing out that the polling also suggests most of their voters were male (contrary to the predominantly female image of them Fox News often portrayed), while, by contrast, men and women were about equally likely to support the Adams campaign. These were, if you will, the sort of women that men often like best: the ones who don't see male violence (and yes, it is overwhelmingly male violence we're talking about here) as a problem.
Who supports the status quo in NYC? And who still supports cutting $1 billion from the police department's budget? Well, turns out it's mostly people who are who are white, wealthier, and live in areas that correspondingly feature lower rates of violent crime. In fact, many of the leading advocates for reduced law enforcement can afford, and have, private security, and as such don't have to call the police in an emergency situation! They are, in short, people who, based on their own lived experience, can scarcely imagine basic physical safety as being an issue at all! It is this position of privilege, this lack of first-hand experience with social violence, that makes them so casual and flippant about it! Should you ever call them on this, whelp they have the university degrees with which to disingenuously reverse the charges of social privilege, racism, and disconnectedness that might more naturally be leveled against them!!
What Eric Adams and AOC have in common to get many of the same people's votes obviously isn't their worldview per se, it's their working class background and correspondingly believable concern for the plight of those who are struggling. It's not stupidity on the part of the poorest and oft-unemployed or under-employed that motivated them to elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to the U.S. House of Representatives where she might advocate for a Green New Deal but has no control over police budgets in her district (thank goodness) and it's not "white supremacist" attitudes that motivated principally black and Hispanic people to support a law-and-order black Democrat for the position of mayor in a context of rising social violence. Both of these things, rather, are good sense on their part! I guess that's my real point here.
"But will the Democratic nominee actually be elected NYC mayor", you ask? Well let's think about it for two seconds: the Republicans have nominated, as Adams' opponent, the lunatic founder of the oft-parodied Guardian Angels vigilante group. Former police captain versus vigilante group founder who supports loose guns. Police. Vigilantes. Reasonableness. Unreasonabless. I wonder who will win this contest! (That would be sarcasm.) That surmises the comparative disconnectedness of much of today's Republican Party, but that's another topic for another time.
Every poll these days finds that most of the American public consistently supports serious reforms to our criminal justice system, including nationwide bans on chokeholds and no-knock warrants and ending both racial profiling in policing and qualified immunity for officers, recognizes the murder of George Floyd as indeed a murder and not () a drug overdose, wants marijuana decriminalized, and wants more funding for mental health care and interventions that don't involve cops or weapons, among other things, and all this definitely includes me. Who supports defunding police departments and scaling back actual law enforcement though? Not even black New York Democrats who voted for AOC. In fact especially not black New York Democrats who voted for AOC! It's affluent, spoiled, safe, predominantly white, virtue signaling posers who in reality care more about balanced budgets than they do about black lives. There is no need to choose between public safety and racial justice and we shouldn't.Last edited by Jaicee - on 11 July 2021