By Esmeralda Simmons, Esq.
Local — All local elected officials were re-elected.
However, many changes indicate that MAGA-like white supremacists are rising across this country. Significantly, they are attempting to put their reactionary brand of politics in power by electing right-wing candidates locally and nationally. This does not bode well for the political future of Black folks in Brooklyn and elsewhere in this nation.
Moderate to progressive Black elected officials currently represent Brooklyn were running for seats and re-election in newly “redistricted” districts. They all coasted to victory in the mid-term elections. That means a continuation of the type of representation that we’ve had in recent years: Plenty of lip service to the issues we care about, but, except, on the state level, for eliminating cash bail, few actual significant changes were enacted that positively affect our communities’ residents, unless you count decriminalized marijuana as a blessing. We have yet to feel the economic relief enacted on the federal level.
Veteran politicians, Representatives Hakeem Jeffries and Yvette Clarke, will remain in Congress. But their influence will be significantly weakened, as Congress is poised to be ruled by the Republican party if the early results play out.
Established “regular” Democrats like Assembly members Latrice Walker, Stefani Zinerman, Democratic County Leader Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, Mathylde Frontus, and State Senators Zellmor Myrie, Kevin Parker, and Roxanne Persaud will be returning to Albany, along with their” Democratic Socialist” colleague, Jabari Brisport.
Newbie Assembly members Phara Souffrant Forrest, Brian Cunningham, Monique Chandler-Waterman, Nikki Lucas, and Jaime R. Williams were also re-elected.
On the statewide front, Black voters in Brooklyn helped to elect Kathy Hochul as the first elected woman Governor in New York State. She scraped to victory, as her anti-abortion Republican opponent saw a great surge in popularity in recent weeks, according to the polls, particularly upstate. Our courageous champion, State Attorney General Letitia James, was easily re-elected. Meanwhile, with his re-election, Chuck Schumer will continue to hold the reins as the Majority Leader of slim majority power in the US Senate.
What does that mean to us?
First, look at the local races because they affect us the most through the state policies and state dollars that come to our communities.
The actual scenario- We are experiencing a rare political party trifecta in New York state government because all leaders in power are Democrats: Governor, Speaker of the Assembly, and Majority Leader of the State Senate. In addition, the Attorney General is a Democrat. The mayor of New York City and the Borough President are Democrats. Therefore, there are few limitations to their changing state law or investing state dollars to benefit the citizens of New York, particularly our communities and other Democratic strongholds in the state.
Secondly, Black folks in New York are also experiencing a significant ascendency, as Black political leadership in New York State is at its peak. The Speaker of the Assembly, the Majority Leader of the Senate, the Attorney General, and the Lieutenant Governor are all Black. The Mayor of New York City is a Black man! Nothing should stop implementing a 21st-century Black political agenda to support our people’s development in New York State and even do our fair share to save the planet!
So our votes counted! We have political power. Let’s ensure that our local representatives know what our budget and public policy priorities are loud and clear. We are looking for their leadership in more than the distribution of small grants; we want bold action on major issues like affordable housing, services and housing for the homeless, and a public jobs initiative for our unemployed and under-employed residents (especially our youth and Gen X and Y, who have gotten a raw deal from this society). Let’s have a state supplemental food program, so our seniors and lower-income neighbors won’t have to stand in church pantry lines to eat.
They can enact a state college/trade school loan forgiveness program that picks up where the feds left off. We should Institute free tuition at well-supported SUNY and CUNY colleges.
Let’s end New York’s draconian prison labor industry. Like all other workers, if incarcerated people labor, they should get a fair wage, not pennies per hour, like slaves.
We should fund Universal Pre-K and 3K statewide to give New York’s children a real head start in the global economy.
There’s so much that needs to be done for New Yorkers and the environment. Now is the time to do it while we have the opportunity and the political power.
Nationally, the mid-term election predicts the growing popularity of MAGA ideas, fears, and actions to many more US citizens.
Even though this election was not the red wave landslide that Republicans and their pollsters predicted, it looks like the dawning of a second post-reconstruction era — a deliberate flashback to a time when Civil War societal promises to Black folks were broken, and the laws to enable life, liberty, and equal protection to Black folks were retracted by the courts and federal and state laws.
This round, expect more civil rights retractions. Hundreds of thousands of US voters in this mid-term election were empowering their ultra-right-wing elected officials to attack most of the hard-fought-for civil rights gains we won and realized in just the last fifty years. The right to abortion was just the beginning of the rollbacks.
There will be few, if any, tax hikes for corporations and the rich, but expect federal budget cuts that will negatively affect low and middle people as we all battle inflation and a probable economic recession.
This election served as a test of what this country stands for. The reading: For Brooklyn, we are steady. For the USA, “beware the ides” of January 6th.