The Perspective For 9/13/13: The Trap of 'Inevitability'
It's a fascination discussion that The Nation's astute Richard Kim and Emily Douglas are having for the last few days about how Christine Quinn suffered the catastrophic fall from presumed next mayor of New York to her political career arguably being over.
Their analysis of how "identity politics" was roundly trumped in this race that allows Bill De Blasio to be the likely Democratic candidate against Joe Lhota in the general election is top notch as usual from those two, accomplished Nation editors. That's highlighted in Kim showing how he truly is cognizant of basic "five boroughs" races and mentioning a number of gay and lesbian candidates winning on Tuesday:
....wanted to point out that six LGBT council candidates won their elections yesterday. That’s a record! In addition to incumbents Jimmy van Bramer and Danny Dromm from Queens and Rosie Méndez from the East Village/Lower East Side, Corey Johnson will take over Quinn’s west side seat. Brooklyn and the Bronx will both see their first LGBT council representatives in Carlos Menchaca and Ritchie Torres respectively.But their discussion has just too much attention on that element of how resoundly dismissed identity politics were in Quinn's defeat. Instead, the key thing to focus on for Quinn's defeat is how she contributed to it by running one of the worst campaigns ever in the five boroughs. In fact, it contributed possibly even more than the minute she began helping Mike Bloomberg be a king of Manhattan and yonder for four more years.
Quinn thought because of her massive money and inside backing with the affluent in this city that she was going to eventually waltz to victory based on inevitability. She was an intelligent, well-respected woman who knew everybody, a still rare powerful gay woman, and for the longest had the most crossover 'potential' of all the Democratic candidates to win other demographics. Or, at least that's what she and most thought would be the case.
She used that vapid perspective to do frankly invisible groundwork, even in Manhattan of all places, where she upset those in her West side area by never being vocal about early morning construction bothering those in the area.
It was like Quinn fell into the same, ridiculous trap that Manhattan politicians got away with in the past but won't be able to from now on: Forgetting that the city has four other boroughs.
Two perfect examples of that is what she did in Brooklyn in the last month when her desperation wasn't apparent and when it suddenly was. The first one took place at a summer concert at Wingate Park in earlier August that featured Gladys Knight and The Spinners. Quinn, de Blasio, and Bill Thompson were there to do their campaign pitches to the mostly black crowd in attendance. But while the other two spoke for a quick second, Quinn decided to not get on the microphone in the crowd and instead just sit in the VIP section. If that wasn't a perfect example of how shockingly indolent Quinn was running her campaign for how smart an insider she is, then other reasons would have a hell of a lot better to top that one.
The comparisons to Hillary's 2007-08 campaign can be annoying, but they are frankly apt here, and not because De Blasio's wave of positive energy was analogous to Obama's. Quinn was stuck in so many archaic perspectives of politics, thinking that minority turnout on primary day would not be a determining factor by barely pursuing their votes and doing nothing to shed her Bloomberg supporting, hack image that demonized her as much as Hillary's vote for Iraq.
And that brings this to the second issue of her neglecting Brooklyn and the other boroughs. Sensing that the campaign truly was slipping away from her the minute that first Quinnipiac poll showed de Blasio with the massive lead that turned out to be the final case, Quinn's campaign did more than the standard re-bo calling effort. They actually decided to bring campaign staffers, who were black, door to door to traditionally black communities (or the once notorious "hoods") like Bedford-Stuyvesant to see if their few minutes of conversing with strangers would do the trick for them to magically support her. It was an idea worse than Smurfs or Grown Ups 2 playing in theaters this past summer.
Quinn's preference to stand for a vague campaign with no ideas when communities were annoyed with condo development, thoughts of more MTA hikes despite having to deal with inconvenient transit construction once again, bike lanes being on more and more narrow streets and the awful idea of seeing Citigroup drop their ugly "Citibikes" into places without their consent (some had them removed after they complained about them) was bound for disaster.
She really thought that the out of touch big three newspapers were going to be the needed, late turning point to surge her past de Blasio and take the position she thought was rightfully going to be her's. But just like with Hillary winning states late she thought would pressure Obama to lose his insurmountable early lead in the Democratic primary five years ago, Quinn was foolish to think she would be rewarded for last minute homework done after an lethargic effort.
An effort that most New Yorkers in 2013, regardless of whatever identity political group they are apart of, will not reward regardless of who it is.