Green Thumbs Down
When you hear Ursula Rozum of the Green Party talk about environmental issues, it reeks of hypocrisy. Why is Rozum running for New York’s 24th Congressional District? Doesn’t she realize that she will siphon off votes from Dan Maffei and help re-elect a Tea Party favorite and one of the most conservative members of Congress, Ann Marie Buerkle?
Buerkle has been labeled one of the “Flat Earth Five” for being one of the most anti-environmental members of Congress. Of course Rozum and the Greens realize this, so what’s up?
When I first heard about Rozum’s run for Congress back in April, I asked on the Syracuse Peace Council listserv why the Greens wanted to run a candidate here. Not surprisingly, some of the righteous were offended by my query. What became more apparent were the many other voices like mine that questioned the Green Party decision to run a candidate.
Several Greens responded that they wanted to raise progressive issues and thought that Rozum’s entry would make Maffei lean in that direction. Rozum, herself an employee of the Peace Council, responded that she was running because “someone in this race needs to articulate sane solutions to the serious crises facing the United States and indeed the world. I see the crises as economic inequality and climate change (and more broadly, the trashing of the planet by profit-driven industries). My opponents display the worst characteristics of both their parties—Buerkle is an ultra-conservative who won’t let scientific evidence get in the way of her dogmas.
“On her website she claims that President Barack Obama nationalized healthcare. Dan Maffei might not be as bad as Buerkle, but he supports the status quo. He participated in the corporate-sponsored New Democrat Coalition, not the Progressive Caucus, when he was in Congress. We cannot afford the status quo, from climate change to persistent economic stagnation and unacceptably high unemployment.
“Maybe it’s an age thing, but why do so many progressives think it’s an effective strategy to vote for people who don’t represent their ideals.”
Given the concern generated by Rozum’s candidacy, the Peace Council asked me to write an article for its June newsletter. In it, I point out that the core belief of the Greens—that there is no distinction between Democrats and Republicans—is a falsehood. I demonstrated how Ralph Nader, the Green Party’s presidential candidate in the 2000 election, helped elect George W. Bush. I went on to talk about how so many of the issues advocated by Mitt Romney, from the Paul Ryan budget to women’s issues, will devastate the poor and set back women.
Since then I have been pondering what motivated the Greens. My conclusion is that, while the Greens passionately talk about the issues, they are more interested in party and organizational power.
Many others similarly expressed their unhappiness with the Greens’ decision to put forth a candidate. Ed Griffin-Nolan, a former editorial board member of the Syracuse Peace Council Newsletter, wrote “Game Changer” for the Syracuse New Times (May 2, 2012), saying that Rozum will serve as the “handmaiden” that could help re-elect Buerkle.
What qualifies Rozum to be a candidate for Congress? Does she have substantial work experience, a long and successful political track record, a strong educational background, is she a policy wonk? A member of Congress is a highly regarded and powerful position.
Having a well-known and accomplished candidate helps in having your voice heard. If the Greens were serious about winning the election and/or getting their message out, they would have put forth someone that the media would have taken more seriously.
As I ponder the Greens’ rationale in the 24th, I have taken an about-face on several issues. For example, I thought about Howie Hawkins’ run for governor in 2010 and how he was able to garner 50,000 votes and win a line on the ballot for the Greens. At the time I said, “Kudos, Howie.” But as I look back now, it is clear that ultimately Howie’s run was about establishing a presence, a base of power for the Greens. It is this conclusion that has led me to believe that by running Rozum, the Greens are exercising their right as party, flexing their muscle as they say. It’s all about the party!
Many have opined about how Nader helped Bush win in 2000. But tell a Green that and they get defensive and clearly go into denial. They will explain that Nader had nothing to do with Bush winning Florida and that Gore won; it was the Supreme Court; etc. Perhaps this denial is intentional; perhaps it is ingrained deep in their psyche. It could be that they cannot bring themselves to admit that their core belief, that there is no difference between Republicans and Democrats, is a falsehood.
What is clear is that the Greens are oblivious to the effect that their actions have on elections and, ultimately, policies that deeply affect our daily lives and well-being. Third parties are a good thing and voicing your opinion is important. But if you are concerned about the political process and the result of elections, you need to be sensitive to the effects that you will have on elections and to the will of voters. Arguably, since Nader’s run in 2000, sentiment toward the Green Party has soured.
Our local Green Party has failed to win one election since its formation several decades ago. Running a candidate in a contentious race that will help an anti-environmental ultra-conservative will not help the people in this district. Greens need to remember that, in early 2010, right after Buerkle’s victory, the Peace Council organized and carpooled to attend her town hall meetings in opposition. They should realize that much of that passion will be turned against them should Rozum stay in the race and Buerkle win again.
Syracuse Court of Appeal
Earlier this year I was the manager of the Barack Obama campaign in Central New York. I met Gordon Cuffy, candidate for Onondaga County Court judge, when he asked for my advice in grass-roots campaigning.
When I met Gordon, I learned about his personal story, which includes being the son of parents who immigrated to the United States from the Caribbean island of Grenada, then a British colony. His father served in the Royal Air Force. He grew up in a tough part of Brooklyn and decided to study law and become a prosecutor when he saw the terrible effects that crime has on its victims, including his mother. After earning his undergraduate degree from Syracuse University and his law degree from Brooklyn Law School, he returned to Syracuse with his wife, Dr. Nadine Cuffy, to live and raise a family.
For the past 22 years, Gordon Cuffy has devoted his legal career to making a difference in the Syracuse community, first as a prosecutor and more recently as the county attorney under County Executive Joanie Mahoney.
The supporters of President Barack Obama in Onondaga County would be equally strong supporters of Gordon Cuffy if they had a chance to meet him and learn about his personal story, as I did. I encourage you to vote for Gordon Cuffy on Nov. 6 in his campaign for Onondaga County Court judge.
No Pal of Al
I am not surprised that Al Stirpe is running for the 121st state Assembly District again. It seems to be the going trend these days. I would like to respectfully ask Mr. Stirpe what has changed from the last time he ran? The voters replaced him because they didn’t like the job he was doing. I remember my taxes going up a lot more with Stirpe because he voted for the largest tax increase in the state history.
Many families are already struggling to make ends meet and we can’t afford to send Stirpe back to Albany. Don Miller has only been in office a short time but I like the fact that he has already started to cut taxes and is looking out for us and not joining with the Albany establishment.
Earlier this year, AARP launched “You’ve Earned a Say,” a national conversation about the future of Social Security and Medicare, to engage citizens in communities across the country. To date, tens of thousands of New Yorkers have shared their thoughts through surveys, community conversations, forums, tele-town hall sessions and other activities.
Through this conversation, AARP is providing voters with balanced information about the pros and cons of Medicare and Social Security proposals that are being debated in Washington and on the campaign trail—minus the political jargon and spin.
Although some candidates and political campaigns took advantage this election season and used AARP’s logo and quote out of context in political ads, AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates.
The next president and Congress will likely decide the future of Medicare and Social Security. AARP believes candidates owe voters more than 30-second sound bites on their plans for the future of these programs. Our voters’ guide, available at earnedasay.org, enables voters to find out where the candidates stand on Medicare, Social Security and financial security.
We encourage AARP members and New Yorkers of all ages to ask questions about where the candidates stand on these important issues, that are important not only to today’s retirees but future retirees as well so they can make their own decisions on Election Day.
New York state
Homogenize: “A process to make uniform or similar.” That is the unfortunate outcome of the corporate changes occurring with the Syracuse Post-Standard. A news-gathering and reporting institution with an unprecedented and proud legacy, The Post-Standard is being reduced to an electronic news factory.
Apparently, corporate greed overpowers corporate responsibility. Regardless of the format in which news is delivered (paper, online, airwaves), news organizations must retain and employ competent, ethical and professional journalists dedicated to providing news and information vital to an informed citizenry.
Unfortunately, corporate media is operated on the premise that “online” means less investment in content gatherers: professional journalists and editors. Corporate media substitutes already-prepared content floating out on the Internet, regardless of whether that content is accurate, balanced or worthy of the proud news media legacy to disseminate “all the news that is fit to print.”
Corporate media helps promulgate innuendo, slander and anonymous postings by people without the ethical scruples to put their name with their words. This pseudo-journalism does not add to the public debate. It only serves to confuse the issues and elevate verbal cacophony.