Readers Write: Kremer’s In the wrong corner

Readers Write: Kremer’s In the wrong corner

“America is a one party state. But with typical extravagance, they have two of them.” – J.K. Nyerere

Jerry Kremer’s column (Rising political stars can fade away quickly) points out the growing schism in the Democratic party.

Unfortunately, he’s on the wrong side of history, and he writes of “Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, whose every word is embraced by a group that is hungry for something different. “

“Something different” is not the reason for her attraction, and for someone who has been in the political sphere for as long as Mr. Kremer has, this is incredibly insular and dismissive.

Whether it has been her incisive questioning on House committees, or her dealing with right-wing trolls on social media, Ms. Ocasio Cortez demonstrates a firm grasp of policy, shows up prepared, and is equipped to deal with the realities of modern, hair-trigger media. People respect those attributes. She’s sharp-witted and has obvious political gifts.

The attraction which Mr. Kremer misses is simply that corporatist Democrats, as represented by the Clinton wing, have failed the natural allies of the party, and the base now demands real live Democrats. And that disturbs him.

It poses a problem particularly for Long Island Democrats who simply wear the party label but do little on actual policy.

Some even call themselves “progressives” which is about as honest as labeling pork rinds kosher. Mr. Kremer is almost gleeful in anticipating Ms. Ocasio Cortez’ downfall. And why not? The current state of affairs certainly has been good to him and other Long Island Democrats. Because it requires no sacrifice or courage.

When Tom Suozzi ran for re-election to the House, his slogan was “A Democrat who gets it.”

The implication, of course, is that he’s not one of “those” Democrats who will actually change the course of the economy and the laws to suit the needs of working people who have been ravaged since the Great Recession began.

So he made common cause with an organization called “No Labels” which is a conservative front group backed by hedge fund money, among other sources.

No, he’ll simply ignore people like that woman from Port Washington who is reduced to starting a $150,000 “Go Fund Me” to cover her bills to treat her breast cancer and her son’s spinal disease, while the one percent lavish millions on palaces of medical care few can afford and then write it off their taxes.

This isn’t the country the base wants. And it shouldn’t be the country any Democrat wants.

Mr. Kremer suggests we turn our support to centrist candidates. What Mr. Kremer doesn’t grasp is that centrism is not the absence of ideology. It is merely another ideology.

He writes “This new phenom from Queens has become a vocal part of a small group of newcomers who have a far-left agenda on things like healthcare, college tuition and the environment. “

Those aren’t parts of a “far left agenda.” They’re genuine policy solutions to problems real voters face. Mr. Kremer acts as if they don’t exist. And that’s the problem. He’s content. The base isn’t.

As Adam Serwer of the Atlantic wrote, “Clintonism’s doctrine of granting major policy concessions that cause substantial human suffering in exchange for political victories hasn’t changed much since the 1990s, but I don’t think it’s where the Democratic Party base is now.”

And he’s right. Characterizing Rep. Ocasio Cortez as “far left” only speaks to the fossilization of the party.

Those who know their history realize she is following in the footsteps of FDR, Frances Perkins, Harry Truman, Robert F. Kennedy, Hubert Humphrey and others. “Action, and action now” bellowed FDR in his inaugural speech. No more half measures.

The old guard on Long Island has gotten fat and comfortable just giving a tip of the hat to pro-choice issues, a few environmental matters and then calling “mission accomplished.” They’ve been perfectly fine with the most regressive property tax system in the nation that assures them that everyone knows their place, and their world won’t be disturbed.

They’ve paid lip service to the widest earnings gap of the Post War era, decades-long wage stagnation, and a trebling of health care costs. In other words, they’re not Democrats.

And it’s high time we elected a few.

Donald Davret


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  1. Dear Mr. Davret,

    Having worked for a N.Y. State Assembly member and a U.S. Congressman for almost 24 years, I have learned the following (among many other things) from both: 1) “Politics is the Art of the Possible;” 2) One has to go along to get along and 3) “Never wound the Lion” (i.e., don’t try to unseat the Speaker unless & until you have the votes.) These were, and continue to be, three important elements of “how to succeed in politics” in the daily workings of of our Democratic Republic.
    I do not know if the writer was ever eitiher an elected official or a staff member of same. His letter is full of “piss and vinegar” because he appears very disappointed with the functioning of the above “rules” in recent times. (Were they the same in the “days of yore?” I think so). In any event, he is energized by our new, Latina Congresswoman from the Bronx and Queens, the Honorable Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez .
    From the very beginning of this most recent election cycle, she threw the “rules” in the face of the Chairman of the Queens County Democratic Committee (a “powerful” position in itself) and ousted him from his long tenure in Congress. “The King is dead! Long Live the Queen” comes to mind. Indeed, Srta. Ocasio-Cortez is an important breath of fresh air in what many think (on “both sides of the aisle”) is a very stale legislative (governmental?) environment. She’s no dumbie, vy a long shot, but she is “only” 29 years old.

    Jerry Kremer, whom the writer criticizes for being a “centrist” has been out of elective office for almost 40 years, if I’m not mistaken. He lauds Congressman Suozzi for his recent slogan “A Democrat who gets it.” Every time I read these words or saw them on billboards, only one question came to mind: “Gets what??”
    As Nassau County Executive, “Tommy” rarely encountered a compromise he couldn’t make, a necessary survival tool in a divided County government I guess he has been “getting it” for a long time. Does he stir voters’ passions as he “gets it” or is he just “going along to get along?”

    Jerry Kremer, the Chairman many years ago (40?) of the N.Y. State Assembly Ways & Means Committee, went along and got along for a long time in government. Was he a “bad guy” therefore? Not al all. I believe that he was trying to do his best, as a powerful government official, as he saw fit. ongresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ix the current exemplar of this message. After all, she defeated the Chairman of he Queens County Democratic Committee, an important and powerful position in itself, and a long-serving member of Congrress who was on his way to a “powerful” position in the leadership thereof. No mean feat for a 29 year old Bronx Latina with no prior elected experience.

    While it has been doctrine among some political philosophies that revolution is sometimes the only way to change the course of political and economic history (“for the better” in the minds of the revolutionaries), evolution, on the other hand, needs prodding, not only to change the status quo but also to move the populace forward from years of stasis and ennui to action now.
    Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ix the current exemplar of this message. After all, she defeated the incumbent congressman, Joe Crowley, a long-serving member of Congrress who was on his way to a position in the leadership in what was to become the Democratic majority in the House. This was no mean feat for a 29 year old Bronx Latina with no prior elected experience. In fact, it was a political revolution.
    “Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” they say.

    There is one last “rule” I have not yet mentioned, but it is valid in all walks of life: “Nobody’s Nerfect!”
    I do agree with Mr. Davret that we give AOC a little slack and time to develop her attitudes and ideas, along with the other rational members of her congressional “freshman class.” In our vast democracy and with the enormous reservoir of all of our peoples’ of good will, I suggest we give our “newbies” time to mature as they try to hurtle to new heights of governance. If we’re not (somehow, in some ways) part of the solution. we will all remain part of the problem.


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