That question has plagued me for months! I’ve been appalled by my smart and feisty New York friends and colleagues who are not up in arms about the audacious manipulation of law by Mayor Blumberg in order to run for a third term! I’m not at all convinced that he is the only leader who can run the city in these challenging economic times. Indeed, I believe he has disqualified himself by his actions. I am, sorry to say, convinced that he has spent enough money to buy himself the election. But what about democracy?
We could have been a monarchy but for the wisdom and modesty of George Washington when he returned unhesitatingly—one could even say enthusiastically—to Mount Vernon—following his two terms as our first president. After 9/11 New Yorkers could have been in the hands of Rudy Giuliani for a third term, but even at that terrifying moment, they had the good sense to move beyond him. Our aversion to strong central government has been one of the hallmarks of our nation’s strength as a democracy and it is no less than tragic for New Yorkers to turn their backs on the process by reelecting—or being purchased by– a leader who sees himself above the law.
Having spent some time in Africa during the past year on projects that aim to strengthen democracy and the culture of interdependence, I’ve had the chance to observe some ” worst practices” with regard to presidential elections. Needless to say they do not reflect leaders’ passion for democracy and the rule of law. In the actions of those presidents who refuse to leave office one sees the mirror image of Michael Bloomberg. African leaders are often following in the footsteps of the colonial leaders who preceded them, who “owned” their colonies and had no intention of sharing their power with the people. In no way were their role models committed to government of the people, by the people and fro the people.
Among the rights that we Americans enjoy is one which I believe to be our most precious right—the right to be responsible for the public good. I urge my friends and fellow citizens in New York to preserve that right—to vote Bloomberg out of office—and to restore democratic rule in the greatest city in the world.
I do not live in New York but I am a citizen of the United States. As such I believe that I have as much stake in Bloomberg’s purchase of the mayoralty of New York City as anyone. And so, as I stand in protest of the Bloomberg campaign, I am a New Yorker.