Thursday, November 06, 2008

Hispanic Empowerment Diminished

In this morning's NY Daily News, Juan Gonzales details the Hispanic empowerment angle in the leadership challenge by Kruger and the three amigos: "Gov. Paterson met in a Manhattan hotel Wednesday with four rebel Democratic state senators who are threatening to scuttle plans to elect Malcolm Smith Senate majority leader. The dissidents - three of them Hispanic - told the governor they are tired of the state's Democratic Party taking Latinos for granted, despite their role in the party's huge victories on Election Day."

In a new political era, where the country has elected an African American president, and New York has an African American governor, the state and city is still without ant Hispanic leadership-and it's noteworthy to point out that Barack Obama was elected with the support 0f 66% of the Latino vote: "We had a frank discussion with the governor, and he heard us clearly," said Sen. Ruben Diaz of the Bronx. "We have a black President now, a black governor, a potential black majority leader in the Senate, but not a single Hispanic in any major statewide or citywide office," said one of the lawmakers at the meeting. "We told the governor we're the biggest minority in the state, and we keep getting nothing but lip service and parades."

The story here-and Gonzales indicates that Paterson told the four of his support for Malcolm Smith-is that the governor met with the four legislators at all; an indication to us that he takes their independent stance seriously: "The mere fact that Paterson met with the dissidents was seen by some as a signal to the majority leader in waiting that he needs to be more responsive. And with Democrats controlling the new Senate by a 32-30 margin, the four dissidents, should they stick together, could make the transition to Democratic rule in that body - the first in 43 years - a messy one."

Others, however, threatened by the move, can't resist the anonymous back biting: ""They're living in a fantasyland," countered a veteran Democratic lawmaker. "After all these years in power in the Senate, the Republicans are not going to suddenly line up behind a Democrat for majority leader." "This is nothing but a caucus of backstabbers," said a New York City senator who backs Smith. "They can't even trust each other."

You know, these closeted snipers should have the courage to step forward-after all, the four are simply being farcical, according to these anonymous carpers. As Gonzales points out: "Some in Albany see this last-minute rebellion as an almost comical diversion." When the dust clears, however, it could well be the four dissidents who have the last laugh.

It seems that when Latinos push for greater empowerment their efforts get derided, or simply ignored-remember that Smith supported Bloomberg over Ferrer-but when the shoes on the other ethnic foot, than everyone's counseled to exhibit heightened sensitivity. In our view, power sharing is the order of the new day, and the crisis facing the state, enhances rather than diminishes this effort: "With the economy in a tailspin, the state facing huge deficits and the governor having called an emergency session of the Legislature later this month, this is not the time for Democrats to start fighting each other, they say. "What do these four have to say about the real problems facing New Yorkers?" one state official said."

Oh, the bitter cup runneth over-and to deride these four challengers, assumes that the current political pretenders awaiting being anointed are Diogenes-like. It only underscores what the four are saying about the belittlement of Latinos seeking to gain a larger piece of the pie; it's always, "Stand in line and wait your turn." A turn that others would like to postpone indefinitely.