New York City, New York
This Democrat primary race for the New York City’s Mayor’s Office in 2021 has been without a doubt the most weakest and indistinguishable as well as the biggest and most boring one in this century and probably in history. Although the debates are finally done and the electoral polls are officially open, the democratic process will be truly put to the test with the new rank choice voting system with a dozen candidates on the ballot to choose from.
Make that five to choose from, because the old one person one vote way of Democracy was deemed too inequitable conceptually for any regular ambitious civic-minded individual without the influence, connections and moolah to run for executive government positions. So in last year’s NYC election, city voters decided to fix the ballots to give other people a chance to campaign and rank by having electoral ballots repurposed for more choices and also lifting the cap on matching funds for fundraising from 1 to 1 to a mind boggling 8 to 1 for aspiring candidates, money which that was going to be re-allocated by city residents tax dollars.
What could possibly go wrong? Especially in one of the most allegedly progressive cities in the U.S.A.? Fucking plenty, since these new electoral rules has done the total opposite of what good intentions they were set to do and has actually exacerbated the cutthroat culture of electioneering and ossified the predominance of money and politics in campaigns. Instead of producing populist candidates powered by the people, it’s led to the SAMO crop of upper class establishment politicians, bureaucrats and for and non profit business execs with questionable or no ethics and dubious accomplishments and qualifications for the city’s chief executive position.
Let’s start with the elephant with diarrhea in the room, and that’s the money .With 90% for every donation up to $2,000, every city taxpayer automatically and technically becomes a straw donor that keeps the campaigns of cellar dwelling candidates alive and bolsters the campaigns of already leading candidates enriched by corporation and plutocrat money. And being that these mediocre candidates raise more money than they initially raise, it’s a glaring statement of how immensely unpopular they are with the constituency, which is why even late in the election over 35% of registered voters polled are still not sure who they want to choose.
Making this collective vote of no confidence the true front runner in the mayoral election even after $100,000,000 has been spent of city taxpayer straw donations. In fact, given the massive amount of funds contributed to these campaigns as well as the smaller and equally crowded races for City Council district seats and Borough President, it also makes the taxpaying voter a virtual money bundler as well.
But thanks to this supposedly progressive and profligate redistribution of campaign funds, the lamest can still run without reflection or shame. Take this whiny trustafarian Shaun Donovan, who currently at the bottom of the race is till soiling the internet and television with ads of still photos with him and President Obama and his wife while he worked for him at HUD (interestingly none with 2 term and illegal 1 term mayor Bloomberg who he worked with as head of NYC Housing). The only reason why this shitlib bureaucrat is still around is because his dad was the only one funding his campaign. After Shaun’s pop initially gave his boy a million dollars for his campaign from a PAC he runs (a super daddy PAC!), which was followed by another cool million by his daddy and then another million by a couple of Rockerfellers , Shaun was suddenly under scrutiny by the Campaign Finance Board and it looked for a moment that they were going to kick this rich boy to the curb.
But despite this obvious conflict, the CFB found there was no wrong doing and no links between the super daddy PAC and the Donovan campaign and awarded the entitled candidate over 1.5 million of matching funds from donations from people who didn’t bang his mom over 50 years ago. This enabled Shaun’s dad to continue giving him his weekly million dollar allowance for another two weeks.
The matching funds orgy continued with breakneck speed as the money rolled right in for the top contenders Andrew Yang and Eric Adams and even for lower-tiered also-runs like Maya Wiley, Katherine Garcia and Scott Stringer because of the CFB’s fecklessness and unpreparedness to regulate big money super PACs and 501 c 4’s , all aided by the fucking Citizens United rule that equates donating money with talking and a corporation as a person.
But it’s not just corporations that are doing all the talking. Plutocrats pounced once Shaun got the O.K from the CFB to take his daddy’s millions. Andrew Yang and his Comeback PAC’s welcomed two out of state Republican billionaires half million dollar donations with open arms, which substantially added to the candidate’s outside NYC and NY state funding that has fueled his campaign along with the taxpayer straw donor matching funds. Although to be fair to Andy Yang, one of the oligarchs does have a residence in the city and it happens to be the most expensive one, a 240 million dollar condo in a tower overlooking Central Park and the plebes below,
Funny thing about Yang’s acceptance of rival party filthy lucre is that oligarch townie also donated 500 large to his super foe Eric Adams’ own side hustle super PAC Strong Leadership, run by a woman who happens to run a charter school that was founded by a recent donor to Adams SL PAC. In the meantime garnering donations from the plutes and the taxpayers, Eric Adams has also benefited quite hugely from his own One Brooklyn PAC while serving as Brooklyn Borough President, getting away with the same shady pay to play donations with developers and their lobbyists thanks to the “legal” precedent set by Maya Wiley “agents of the city” legalese and Bill de Blasio’s Campaign For One New York 501 c 4 slush fund.
For the time being, the figurative horse race with Adams and Yang has led them to get the bulk of attention from the city’s wealthiest political philanthropists and also real estate developer overlords.Maya Wiley who just got bumped up to the top 3 in the race after the collapse of the Morales campaign (whose manager wound up joining Wiley’s, no act of sabotage there) and the sexual predatory rumors marring Scott Stringers, got a cool million from fauxgressive liberal billionaire and DNC party gadfly George Soros. And just recently, developers contracted with the Gentrification Industrial Complex’s city’s luxury public housing program have piled money bundles to Cinderella contender and local corporate news media darling Kathryn Garcia. The wiley Wiley also got 500 grand from liberal plutocrat George Soros.
The plague wrought by Citizens United to the matching funds system has also enabled other townie oligarchs the likes of Hudson Yards hermit Stephen Ross and Bloomberg 3rd term creator Ronald Lauder to join forces and create their own little PAC to try to influence the council district elections to run attack ads targeting opponents of their favored candidates while funding five figure donations of their ranked choice picks against them. Thanks to the new RCV system, democracy has become a literal horse race , a glorified version of placing bets to win place and show, and place and show again.
But the most obvious flaw that’s emerged from this profligate tax dollar wasting chaos is that it has made the election campaign industrial complex even bigger. More candidates running means more brains have to be piled and assembled behind them by hiring lawyers, public relations, graphic designers, consultants, social media and data miners, and organizers to bring the volunteer plebians to promote and worship your every word and policy. To give an idea of how landscaping this has become, a young woman used 3/4 of taxpayers matching funds cash like fuck you money to contract a consulting firm from South Carolina to help her win a Council seat in Queens and still lost. In all certainty, this will not discourage future or in Yang’s case current candidates to rely on professionals and donors as long as this matching funds abomination continues.
As for the RCV system itself, it’s already shown to utterly uninspiring to the 3.8 million registered NYC voters even given the opportunity to vote early for 10 days, only 4% of them showed up. Although it’s easy to be voter hesitant and apathetic given the candidates, the ballot itself is enough reason to discourage people considering how the ballot looks like a high school Regents test than a contribution to the Democratic process for the Republic.
Another reason why early voting was probably underwhelming is that the city waited until the last few weeks to get people fully informed and prepared for the ballots with a hardly noticeable ad blitz, which was quite hard to compete with the taxpayer matching funds funded ad blitzes by the top mayoral and comptroller candidates. And Mayor de Blasio didn’t help matters at all when he and his minions set up a Pizza topping ballot that was more ridiculed than heeded and it seem more for the Blaz to have an excuse to stuff his face during a press conference than to inform people, since he didn’t tell anybody voters didn’t need to vote for 5 or even had the option to write in a candidate (which yours truly did).
Yet surprisingly, over a million voters did turn out this time including over 200,000 absentee ballots which was a helluva a lot better than the last two elections The Blaz won to get his job (with much condolences to the city of New York). But it wasn’t all good for Democracy, because not only did the voters have to deal with a cumbersome ballot as lots of voters had to get new ones because they filled the bubbles in wrong which was even a problem for top tier and token shitlib mayoral candidate and RCV booster Maya Wiley who fucked her own ballot up, they also had to deal with the inevitable fracas brought upon them by the NYC Board of Elections, who were even more unprepared to deal with the RCV system just like how they purged hundreds of thousands of Brooklyn ballots, fucking up thousands of absentee ballot envelopes and keeping their machines protected from the elements in the last few elections from the past 5 years.
After two elections in Eastern Queens districts which served as trial sessions for the new voting system. The NYC Board of Elections waited til the end of May to find a contractor to supply the RCV software for the polling machines. Leaving them with only a month to get their shit together.
What could possibly go wrong?
When election day was winding down, it was astonishingly nothing much. Eric Adams wound would a double digit lead over Kathy Garcia and Maya Wiley who were neck and neck, but at the end of the day Adams would not get the clinching 50% of the votes so it was off to the recount of the ranked choices and the decisive victor would be announced in three weeks with an announcement of where the lower ranks would wind up the next week. Now with only 42% of the ballots where voters filled 5 bubbles, this really wouldn’t be hard to get a determined result without some freak of nature calamity to occur with all the time and the new technology the BOE to accomplish this historic use of RCV.
But the freak of nature calamity happened anyway with Chutulu like proportions. The BOE, for some reason known only to them decided to continue testing the software while they were counting the legitimate ballots by leaving the test ballots in and they wound up being counted as well. So instead of the news of the prospect of Katherine Garcia narrowing the gap on Eric Adams lead by 2% with the potential of her pulling off a Harry Truman-esque comeback victory after Adams proclaimed himself the face of the nation for the Democrats, the BOE had to throw those results in the garbage as if the whole count was a bad dream and had to do it all over again the next day.
Although this was expected of the BOE, so notorious for being an establishment cesspool of cronyism and nepotism that even The Blaz finds how they operate offensive and was willing to give them 20 million dollars to fix themselves. But to be this incompetent, the BOE’s botch of the primary count has reached a whole new level and the tipping point of FUBAR. And given their systemic notoriety, it raises a high level amount of suspicions. Given that immediately after they left the trial ballots in, the top officials and cronies had secret meetings on how they were going to reveal their errors. And since a do-over would require more work, it’s a certainty that this could have been done on purpose to get more overtime pay.
Since this debacle has got universally pilloried by officials and the constituents and political wonks on media and social networks in NYC as well across the country and maybe around the world, Eric Adams immediately filed a lawsuit against the BOE and other candidates have stepped in line with lawsuits, including most of the city council candidates running in Queens. Big shot lawyer Maya Wiley went even further in her suit against the BOE by going after her rival candidates to assure that every single vote is counted by hand, which not only is going to cost taxpayers even more money after spending 100 million dollars promoting her and other candidates they didn’t want or care about, but Wiley is ironically channeling Donald Trump who did the same thing after his loss to Joe Biden when he sent Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell to find the Kracken of extraneous votes that were added to the rolls leading to his loss, just like with the extra 140,000 trial ballots the BOE left in. Surreal.
Although they seem like they tried, the BOE didn’t really fully dissuade people from condemning the RCV voting system on account of the cesspool government body that was tasked to make it work and also that it got a wide majority of votes when it was placed on the charter in the 2019 election. But was it really a mandate for change? Considering the horrendous turnout that year were no major offices up for grabs and even though RCV (and matching funds) did get 70% registered support only 10% of registered voters showed up to vote for it.
Showing that half the city voters aren’t that politically wonky or social media obsessive as the corporate news and social media influencers thought there was (at least the 30% of them that showed up, which further establishes how disconnected these smarter people are). The only mandate evident in the RCV system is how it benefits the wonkiest and the big political players, whose advice and activism from experts in those fields their PACs, the campaign teams and the tax payers wind up mostly paying for and which has shown yet again that all the money went to biggest establishment candidates once again. Which is why things might turn out different when RCV gets put back on the ballot for a charter vote next year for it to continue or to get abolished, no matter how low the turnout will inevitably be.
Which shows that the flaws in the RCV and matching funds laws are supporting and enabling a guided democracy than a democracy for the people. And as long as money and politics continue its predominance in every election, voter apathy and disenfranchisement will exacerbate, because every choice will be rank.