The New York City Council’s Charles Barron has made a career as a race hustler, a man who takes his working class and impoverished constituents’ legitimate anger at their economic and social conditions and channels that into racial resentment. For example, in 2010, during the worst economic downturn since the 1930s, Barron created a new political party and ran for governor against Andrew Cuomo, a neoliberal Democrat. But the main issue was not economics, no, Barron was fighting mad because no African-American was on the Democrats’ statewide ballot, which to Barron signaled a racist Democratic Party. This in a state where the governor in 2010 was an African-American Democrat. None of the preceding is to disparage the righteousness of many or even most of Barron’s causes (one of which particularly turned me on: his opposition to state and city freebies for an obscenely wealthy NBA owner so he’d locate his team in Brooklyn).
Barron is now running for the 8th Congressional District seat, primary today, and his main opponent in the Democratic Party is New York State Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries. Key fact about the race is that by mid-June Jeffries had raised $700,000 in campaign donations compared to Barrons’ $50,000. No need to wonder who is giving all that money to Jeffries: “Wall Street lawyers, hedge fund operators and charter school advocates … have poured money into stopping Barron’s bid for a Brooklyn congressional seat …” He’s also received all the wrong endorsements from the corporate media and all the wrong comparisons, such as to Cory Booker.
A passionate advocate, Jeffries last year told charter school parents “that he would ‘always’ support their aspirations over those who would ‘defend the status quo.’” Ain’t that great, unionized public school teachers? Barron, in sharp contrast, has been a strong opponent of charter schools and the closing of public schools to make room for them. But how effective can your advocacy be when most New Yorkers rightly see your politics as fundamentally race-based? Not very.
Again, none of the preceding should disparage Jeffries’ resonable record of accomplishment as a New York State Assemblyman, especially on the ‘stop and frisk’ issue. But Barack Obama had a similar record in the Illinois Senate. Then he ran for the U.S. Senate, taking in huge amounts of money from Wall Street and corporations, and transformed himself into “Obama Inc.” My humble but well-educated guess is that Mr. Jeffries is undergoing a similar metamorphosis.
So, New Yorkers, a race hustler or a neoliberal, what do you say? I say vote for the Green Party candidate in the general election.
P.S. — Oh, one more thing, there’s this, which also indicates another source of Jeffries’ obscenely enormous warchest:
On June 11, 2012, former Mayor Ed Koch, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Councilman David Greenfield, Assemblyman Dov Hikind gathered with several other elected officials to support Jeffries and denounce his opponent in the Democratic primary, Charles Barron. Barron was described as anti-Semitic, and his support of Zimbabwe ruler Robert Mugabe and former Libya ruler Muammar Gaddafi denounced. Barron responded that such attacks had not been raised when he spoke before Jewish groups in Brooklyn, and that his constituents were interested in discussing bread and butter issues not foreign policy.
So, looks like Jeffries will be a neoconservative in Congress as well as a neoliberal. For example, and no doubt pleasing his Israel-centered contributors, he’s taken an all options open stand on the attack Iran issue.
P.S.2 — There’s one more issue in the campaign that is being distorted in places like a MoveOn e-mail, which supports Jeffries. It’s about Barron’s opposition to same-sex marriages. To make this quick, here’s Wikipedia on that:
In November 2011, Barron said that he opposed same sex marriage, but at a June 2012 debate declined to state a position on the issue. Earlier, in 2010 while running for governor, Barron stated that he was a strong supporter of civil unions, adding, “I voted positively on all legislation in the City Council regarding civil union and gay rights. I believe homosexuals deserve equal protection under the law, like everyone else.”