I was writing recently that November 5th is a remarkable day in US history, because one of the remarkable American politicians, Eugene Debbs, was born this day and because on November 5, 2013, almost everybody in New York City decided the de Blasio-McCray are a happy family.
Personally, November 5th is remarkable because I campaigned, devoting over 5 hours to nudge people to go and vote. I did it directly in person in the streets of New York, and by phone. I finally did it after decades of inaction.
My living conditions have jostled my political allegiances over the years. In Romania pre-1989 I was a proud leader of the pioneers in my grade: I loved the garb. In my case it came with a pair of patent leather Mary Jane shoes, knee-high white socks, dark navy gabardine-made pleaded skirt which barely covered my white underwear, a white heavily-starched shirt, a red tie, and an one-inch wide white headband. Sometimes I would wear my hair in two pig tales, and sometimes just very well brushed. For years of service with distinction I would gather decorations like a WWI general. I proudly treasured all those pins. They set me apart as an excellent student.
Then, when I moved to high school, I lost my pioneer garb, but I soon discovered the liberty which came with my new role as the leader of more than 1000 young communists. That was the size of the student body in my local high school, and my liberty vacillated between mourning my life with such happy stanzas as “High school, cemetery of my youth,” and discovering the depth of adolescent anxieties, stabilized only by my strong belief that public and private life do not mingle. So, I would happily lead meetings in the high school gymnasium and read out loud a report the teacher in charge of the young communists prepared for me to read and interpret three times each year. Thinking at those days, I am not particularly proud of how I became the leader of that pack: the school’s principal nominated me to replace the school leader who had just expired, in a gesture of inexplicable generosity. The only reason for her nomination rested, I believe, in the fact that she had to come up with a name and mine was the most convenient because as her neighbor, she easily remembered it. My peers seemed to have forgotten my dubious ascendance and later on, they elected me for an unprecedented 3 year-long terms. Perhaps their vote was rigged, because my name always headed the list of candidates and as you know, high school students are politically lethargic and they rarely read the names listed below the first one. Of course, there is the remote possibility that all those 1000 students truly liked me: I had the good grades, the unpretentious background, and the charisma that came with stalking the cutest boy in that school.
When at the ripe age of barely 18 I was forced again to give up my allegiances for new ones, I found myself in law school, and the political stakes were too high to become involved just because. I discovered instead Latin, Roman history, sex, abortions, and the power of words.
“Yeah, I called him,” (him being my boyfriend’s best friend, and my boyfriend being this guy who asked my parents for permission to marry him because he caught my virginity when I threw it away).
“Yeah, I called him a few times, and left messages with his mother.” (the same him, and God, was he cute: tall and slim and blue-eyed, and very tender and somehow flexible, oh, and yes, his skin was translucid. He could have washed his waivy hair more often, but then we all smoked unfiltered cigarettes and smelled like garbage.)
“Yes, I love you.” (in response to my boyfriend’s “if you say you love me one more time I would break your nose”).
I remained an outsider until 1990, when former members of the former Communist Party needed to express their political feelings and created new political parties with pre-WWII names and platforms. And then the former king came home. He was such a gorgeous grandfather. He reminded me of an older St. Michael killing the dragon. I became a monarchist and engaged in politics volunteering for every party promising to help the monarchy replace the KGB-prompted republic.
Alas, the KGB soon left and their local friends took care of Romanian politics. And I left, too.
If socialism represented a brutal backward local form of capitalism, the American society made me nostalgic for a merit-based society, or at least one that is rigged but it still winks at those who are bright and intelligent and hard working and leaves them alone to succeed along the sons and daughters of the chosen ones. I had fun with the Romanian game. I found myself lost in the American one: Aldous Huxley’ Brave New World. The American public indecency is perhaps possible because if you are not born in a chosen family – with century-old trust funds- the public education meant for you is pure ideology – “Long live the system!”, and “Hail to the CEO!” – and when you are born in a chosen family usually you cannot enjoy the lavish education because your IQ is also your insurmountable obstacle to thinking. Of course, critical thinking is the currency of American education, but the only critical thinking I see is decorative.
So, when along comes a family whose husband and father says, I am going to run for Mayor of New York City, and his platform is “let’s face reality, the American Dream is the name of our national casino chain,” I have paid attention and pledged my support. I have written in laudatory terms about the de Blasio run, donated $25 and campaigned. The day after his election, the de Blasio family danced
I want de Blasio to succeed as Mayor, and then as Senator and US President.
For me, he has already succeeded because from day one he has spoken the truth: there are two Americas as there are two New Yorks. One belongs to the haves, and their gilded few members have the most of everything, and very little belongs to the non-haves, though they represent the majority, or 46% in New York City. And that is scandalous, at least from where I nearsightedly stand.
Good luck Bill de Blasio!