The Democratic Party used to be the party of “there’s nothing to fear but fear itself.” Of “there is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.” Of “Yes we can.”
Thus, it’s incredibly dispiriting to see most Democratic politicians joining their Republican and Conservative colleagues to oppose the Constitutional Convention referendum, Proposition 1 on the November 7th ballot. It’s even move disappointing that every single one of my Democratic congressional opponents—all of them fine young men with truly courageous life stories—are choosing to fall lockstep behind the political establishment, rather than stand tall for democracy. This is a once-in-two-decades opportunity to fix the way Albany works, and I urge all New Yorkers to take it.
Term limits? Yes. Ending gerrymandering? Absolutely. An amendment to protect women’s rights? About time! Strengthening collective bargaining? Yes! Ending corrupting corporate campaign donations? Heck yes! Guaranteeing a right to clean air and water? Definitely. Local control of the city subways? Yes. These are just some the reasons I’m fired up to vote Yes for a people’s convention.
I’ve listened to all the opposing arguments and find them lacking. “Now is not the right time”? That’s been the conservative response to every fight for progress, from women’s suffrage and civil rights to Social Security and Medicare. “Beware the Koch Brothers and Steve Bannon?” Fellow Democrats, we’re gonna be battling cranky millionaires for decades to come, better to leap joyously into the fray than shrink from it. “Public pensions are in danger?” As any first year law student can tell you, every public pension in New York is a contract, and thus is protected by the Contract Clause of the US Constitution (Article 1, Section 10).
I’m a big fan of the 1995 film Braveheart about the Scottish fight for independence. In one scene, after trying to convince the Scottish lords to join him in standing up to the tyranny of King Longshanks, William Wallace sneers at them, “You’re so concerned with squabbling for the scraps from Longshanks’ table that you’ve missed your God-given right to something better.” We New Yorkers deserve a heck of a lot better than Albany has provided, and November 7th is the people’s chance to seize the reins and make it happen. That’s why I hope you’ll join me in flipping over your ballot and voting Yes on Proposition 1.