I wouldn’t want to be a politician right now
So now we will actually see whether the ruling class politicians have the wherewithal to finally put an end to the gun violence that threatens us all. It happens again and again. After each crisis, the people rise up and demand that something be done to curb the proliferation of guns in our country and put an end to the havoc they wreak. Unfortunately, the love affair between Americans and their guns makes it extremely unlikely that the carnage will cease any time soon. Can any of us go about our daily business without wondering whether we might well be in the wrong place at the wrong time? Who among us doesn’t fear the worst?
There is hope among New Yorkers that if we select political leaders who want to see legislation that will strengthen gun control, maybe we can worry less and be spared the mayhem. When you think about our children and grandchildren, nephews and nieces, and consider the risk that they are facing every day in the simple act of going to school, how can you not feel helpless? When you turn on the television news and see and hear the grieving parents of children who have been lost to gun violence, it’s impossible not to feel their pain and grief.
The governor of the state and mayor of New York know that every time we witness yet another mass shooting, their personal political fortunes are put at risk. But what can they say? What would you say if you knew that New Yorkers were watching you and expecting you to tell them something that they didn’t already know?
The Democratic political majorities in both houses of the legislature have been caught flat footed. Once they took over the direction of both houses of the legislature, the Democrats seemed to believe that they could risk being more liberal, confronting conservatives on issues like bail reform. They soon found out that this was a major mistake. Why? The fact is, the people of New York, both state and city, are really not all that liberal after all. No one wants to be held up on a West Side street or conked on the head when entering a subway station or be pushed in front of an oncoming train. Politicians who believe that liberals are willing to risk suffering those fates could not be more wrong. A lot of assumptions that politicians make are just plain dumb. The political weather changes all the time. The liberal Democrats in the legislature found that out quickly enough. It didn’t take long before the Republicans began to make political hay.
Governor Hochul gets it as well as any of our politicians. Every time we see an electoral contest shaping up between a man and a woman, we have only to look at the outcomes of past contests in which dumb anti-feminists play such a determinate role. And Antonio Delgado, the present lieutenant governor, knows just how easy it might be to be in the right place at the right time to become governor.
New Yorkers have to figure out whether things are better for them now than they have been over the past several years. I’ve spoken with many of them and my sense is that they are dispirited. They don’t really believe that things have improved. They go to the gas pumps and are horrified by how much it costs to fill up their tanks. They also know just how expensive their groceries have gotten. They really have no choices. Their politicians tell them, “We feel your pain,” but they don’t believe a word of it.
So we are in an amorphous period in New York. Voters have to decide whether there is any such thing as relief. Frankly, I wouldn’t want to be a politician right now. Would you?
Alan Chartock is professor emeritus at the State University of New York, publisher of the Legislative Gazette and president and CEO of the WAMC Northeast Public Radio Network. Readers can email him at [email protected].