Saturday, January 24, 2009

A (progressive) upstater's perspective on the Gillibrand pick

By LindaBeth

I, of course, personally have political disagreements with Gov. Paterson's pick to replace now-Secretary of State Clinton. And I recognize that Patterson's choice very likely was made largely for self-interest. Rep. Louise Slaughter, a well-liked Rochester and Buffalo-area 12-term Congresswoman, would have made an excellent choice.

All that said, I am getting pretty perturbed by the media coverage that Gillibrand does not represent New York (State). My understanding was that the main reason Paterson wanted an upstater to fill Clinton's vacancy was because of the virtual monopoly that New York City has on New York Senate seats. Filling it with an upstater would give that upstater the power of incumbency for her re-election, as well as a prominent voting record that can represent her rather than having to rely on name (or family) recognition to obtain a Senate seat by unseating the incumbent. With the amount of money needed these days to run a successful campaign, challengers -- especially upstate challengers -- have little hope for success in New York, and upstaters also have little hope for a viable campaign in New York State without New York City recognition, while New York City politicians scarcely need upstate, southern tier, central, and western New York recognition or support.* New York City proper has 8.2 million residents out of New York State's 19.3 million residents -- 42%, and Manhattan is one of the wealthiest areas in the country (while also having an enormous income disparity).

As you can see, the non-NYC regions of New York often harbor bitterness about the tyranny of the minority on the state, as well as the general NYC arrogance that dominates state-wide politics. And we were all pleased at the prospect of having a non-islander be a Senator. So while I am not thrilled with all of the politics of this particular capitol-region politician, I am highly displeased-no, offended-at the continued NYC-centrism surrounding the uproar over her designation. The suggestion that she's going to need to shift into representing "all of" New York (State), and not just her sole conservative district is on the one hand, true, but on the other hand, has never been the case for previous New York Senators. To suggest that her district is an anomaly of the state is only true if New York State = New York City. To say that her choice is not representative of New York because her views are contrary to Mayor Bloomberg or Carolyn McCarthy's efforts are to restrict guns perpetuates this idea that New York City political interests are the same as the rest of the state. And that's just not the case (much to my personal disappointment in many ways).

To be honest, I do not know the specific political views of non-NYC New York. I do know that in Rochester, we continue to elect Republicans as county executives and Democrats as mayors, and the greater area populations reside in the suburban areas of the county. In other words, our region continues to be Republican while our city proper is Democratic.

Since 1962, only one Country Executive, serving 11 years, has been a Democrat in the Buffalo area. The last Republican elected as Buffalo mayor was in 1954. The Syracuse-area Country Executive has been Republican since 1962.

In other words, non-NYC NY is much more moderate than downstate.

So no, I don't like all of Gillibrand's politics. And we can critique her appointment based on political disagreements. But the way that the politicos are criticizing the appointment by arguing that her views are not "New York" views are to completely disregarding the heterogeneity, and indeed, the importance of non-NYC political views, love 'em or hate 'em. She may not "represent" NYC views, but she seems to pretty well represent the variety of views in New York State.

* NY geography lesson: "upstate NY" only equals "everything but NYC" to those who live in NYC or who do not live in the state.

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  • I certainly have no problem with an upstater -- obviously, as a non-resident of New York, that means less to me that it does to you. What I have a problem with is her conservatism. I realize that she's gotten positive reviews from the ACLU, but she's also in league with the NRA. We didn't need a Blue Dog in the Senate.

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 3:36 PM  

  • Of course--I totally agree with you. I personally don't agree with her conservatism/moderate-ism. And you specifically have focused your commentary on her politics....but not everyone has.

    Most of the news watching and reading that I did seemed affronted at her choice for New York (State). To the ones saying "she doesn't represent New York values," I find myself asking "what 'New York'?"

    Politically, she's a mixed bag, but to be honest, New York State is too.

    By Blogger lindabeth, at 3:49 PM  

  • being from the binghamton area- i quite agree. it is tiresome for me living in an area set up much the same way- and i have little doubt that the combo of downstate arrogance and sucking of resources and upstate's insistence on conservative rethugs in local gov'ts has kept the state stagnant and now, bankrupt. perhaps one day we will all get a clue- but for now, gillibrand isn't horrible compared to say- oh, bruno.

    By Blogger billie, at 5:21 PM  

  • I don't really know that she's in "league with" the NRA, but having lived for a while in the rural hamlet of Hamilton New York, I think it's safe to say that nearly everyone I know had a rifle or shotgun and enjoyed using them. As a College Student, I was allowed to keep a Utica .22 rifle and a Lee Enfield .303 british military rifle in my room. There was a school rifle range and I used it frequently.

    I don't belong to the NRA, unlike Michael Moore, but they're right about the "assault weapon" ban being a fraud in that it did not cover assault weapons much less ban them, but New York City, where you can be arrested for carrying a pocket knife, is a very different place. In one place an old shotgun is for trap shooting on a weekend or maybe shooting ducks from some remote pond.

    To many insular New Yorkers it's about murder and a hideous frightful death-dripping abomination with no place in a civilized world ( unless you're NYPD and use it to assassinate black people)

    We'll never reconcile these things, The divisions between town and country are immortal, but failure to be rabidly anti-firearms is hardly the mark of right wing politics and vice versa. The second Amendment was drafted by Liberals.

    By Blogger Capt. Fogg, at 12:28 PM  

  • Additionally, the city of Rochester has been the murder capital of New York State since the post-90s NYC cleanup.

    Per capita murder rates:

    NYC 2008=6.23/100,000
    NYC 2007=5.99/100,000

    NYC 1990=30.89/100,000

    Rochester 2008=21.25/100,000
    Rochester 2007=24.15/100,000

    By Blogger lindabeth, at 2:38 PM  

  • By Blogger söve, at 2:32 AM  

  • By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:42 AM  

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