Three years ago we were in the midst of a hotly contested mayoral election. Four high profile Democrats were battling for the democrat line on the November ballot. Bill Thompson, an Afro-American, had given Bloomberg a close run in 2009, the President of the City Counsel, Christine Quinn, the Comptroller, John Liu and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio were dashing from forum to forum. When the dust settled not only did de Blasio win he won 40% of the vote to avoid a runoff. A key was clearly his early and vigorous opposition to Bloomberg’s “Stop and Frisk” and the Dante TV commercial..
de Blasio received more Afro-American votes than Thompson, the only Afro-American in the race. Virtually every Afro-American male in the city, regardless of their income or residence has a story. A cop stopping them for no apparent reason, treating them as if they were a criminal, a victim of “walking or driving while black.”
During his three years de Blasio fulfilled his campaign promises, he has been the progressive mayor, seemingly vying for the leadership of the left wing of the Democratic Party, and, watching polling numbers drop.
The NY Post and the Daily News have criticized him daily, the Wall Street Journal and the Manhattan Initiate also taking shots at the mayor and Governor Cuomo has made it clear, he, Cuomo, not de Blasio, is the leader of the Democratic Party in the state.
A year away from the next election and the vultures are circling, de Blasio seems wounded, and possible opponents are smelling the carcass.
At this point there is no “Stop and Frisk” issue, at least not until after the November presidential. A Hillary presidency would put a totally different spin – she could endorse de Blasio, or, send out an “I support Bill” message, or, remain aloof. Crime continues to fall to historic levels; the city is prosperous, what are the issues?
Lack of affordable housing, high taxes, homelessness, poverty, undocumented immigration, crowded subways: the list goes on and on; are any of these issues core election issues? Can they grab the electorate?
The Dante TV commercial and de Blasio’s early outspoken opposition to Stop and Frisk, in my view, catapulted him to victory in 2013.
Is there a core issue in 2017 that will create a path to victory?
First, who are the potential voters? An NYU Wagner report in 2013 parsed likely voters. Older, better educated, higher incomes and union members are more likely to vote,
See a detailed analysis of likely voters by neighborhood before the 2013 mayoral election:
Prime voter lists and detailed voter information can be purchased – see what you can find out about likely voters: http://gograssroots.org/files/analyzevoters.pdf
Potential voters are extremely diverse, by ethnicity, by income, by age, by education, by race and by religion or lack thereof.
Getting back to issues: will suspensions be the stop and frisk issue of 2017?
Are schools (i. e., suspensions) the pipeline to prison tropes so deeply ingrained in minority and liberal voters that it will emerge as the core issue? See Atlantic articles here and here; and, as the Department of Education, perhaps responding to harsh criticism from the teacher and principal unions, backs away, even ever so slightly the Atlantic and progressives shove back.
While the suspension/pipeline to prison issue resonates in progressive circles, both white and black, does it resonate among Afro-American parents?
A year or so ago I was at an education forum, during a break a teacher was engaging with an Afro-American charter school parent. The teacher was telling the parent, “Charters throw out the disruptive kids.” The parent answered, “That’s exactly why I send my child to a charter school.”
You cannot simply use the term, “Afro-American voters,” who do you mean? Older black voters? Millennial black voters? Caribbean voters? See fascinating breakdown of voting trends by neighborhood here.
Caribbean voters (Jamaica, Trinidad and Haiti) tend to be socially conservative, church-goers, union members, prefer kids to wear uniforms to school, and, I would argue far more likely to support strict discipline in schools. Highly educated black intellectuals firmly support the school to prison pipeline concept: David Kirkland director of the Metro Center at NYU chairs the Commission for Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline.
If we trace backwards: are kids who end up in criminal justice and/or fail to graduate high school more likely to have been suspended in school. Did the suspension(s) lead to poor academics and/or antisocial behavior? Could alternative disciplinary procedures such as restorative justice practices or Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) avert the negative outcomes associated with suspensions? Do suspensions so stigmatize the student that future negative behaviors are to be expected? On the other hand, how do suspensions impact the other students in the classroom? Does the removal of disruptive students improve educational outcomes for the remainder of the class?
Complex issues and issues that are firmly held.
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