Now that the dust has settled on the midterm elections for 2010, it’s time for me to put in my two cents. Or should I say, my month’s worth of rent. Say what you want about the farce that was the New York state governor’s race. But candidate Jimmy McMillan certainly made his point. The cost of housing here in New York City is really too high. While my rent is under a thousand dollars, I live in the Far Rockaway section of Queens, which is about as far out as you can get, and still be within the five boroughs that make up the City. And I am a civil servant, who works in a title that has a residency requirement. Not that I would want to leave. I am New York born and raised; I love this city. I just hope that I don’t see the day when I am forced to leave this city because of the cost of housing.
Some years ago, District Council 37, the largest city union, was able to negotiate with the city so that the titles covered by their union are able to live outside of the city, in surrounding counties like Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester. While these workers now have more options, some of the titles represented by the union are lower-paid clerical titles. And living outside of city does not address the lack of affordable housing within the five boroughs.
Now folks may argue that the New York governor’s race was such a farce because of colorful characters like Jimmy McMillan. That only so-called “viable” candidates should run for office, or participate in major debates. Well, what is a “viable” candidate? Someone that has the backing of one of the two major political parties? A person who can spend–or attract–millions of dollars for television ads and mailers? Why would I feel confident that a person who has the backing of the party, or the money to finance a political campaign, can represent, and fight for, my political interests–like, the rent being too damn high.
Jimmy McMillan fulfilled the requirements for becoming a candidate for office, which were not about money, or having the backing of the party, but simply to get enough signatures on a petition to get on the ballot. He created his own political party. That’s more than I can say about the Tea Party candidates. Most of them have run under the banner of the Republican Party. To me, that’s part of the problem. In this country, if you’re not a Democrat or a Republican–blue state or red state–then you’re nothing. If the Tea Party feels so strongly about their agenda, then why don’t they create their own political party?
If we call ourselves a democracy, then why should our political discourse be limited to what has essentially boiled down to two sides of the same coin? Political agendas aside, both parties to me are talking the same yakety-yak because they are not looking out for my interests as a taxpayer and a voter. Both parties are listening to the lobbyists and the corporate interests. Which makes Jimmy McMillan’s accomplishments that much more remarkable. He managed to draw national attention to his cause without the money or the backing of the political machine. Both parties should take a page from Jimmy McMillan’s playbook.