A few days before May 1, Marcela Mitaynes, a Brooklyn tenant running for the New York State Assembly, received calls from neighbors she hadn’t heard from in a while. The rent was due and they were concerned about payment. Many lived from paycheck to paycheck before the pandemic. Now, Mitaynes told me on a phone call, families dependent on two or three incomes scraped past one or none. The tenants were concerned about getting into debt – even if they could delay the payment by a few months thanks to a temporary eviction moratorium, they would still pay the rent back.
Mitaynes is one of five New York candidates for office Score the confirmation of the American Democratic Socialists (DSA) – the largest socialist organization in the United States – last week. The local chapter, NYC-DSA, was named “progressive kingmakerIn New York City, after helping Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to push Joe Crowley out of his seat in the House of Representatives in 2018, and supporting Tiffany Cabán, who came within 55 votes after winning the 2019 Queens DA race. Mitaynes, who is running for the Brooklyn State Assembly, District 51 is part of a five-person list supported by both the local chapter and the national DSA.
She runs alongside Zohran K. Mamdani, candidate for a seat in the Queens State Assembly in District 36; Jabari Brisport, candidate for a seat in the Brooklyn Senate in District 25; Phara Souffrant Forrest, candidate for the state assembly in Brooklyn District 57; and Samelys López, who runs for Congress in the 15th New York City borough in the Bronx. (I volunteered for Mitaynes and Brisport this year when he ran for City Council in 2017.) The only time that the DSA has approved the entire list of a local chapter was in 2019 when it selected the Chicago DSA for supported the city council. Democratic socialists now Control a tenth of the Chicago City Council.
The candidates have earned a high level of awareness Notes in addition to the DSAs. The four candidates for the state office are supported by Cynthia Nixon, who won over a third of the votes in her first challenge to Governor Cuomo in 2018. The Working Families Party has approved Brisport, Mitaynes and López. And Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has approved López, who hopes to join the Bronxite representative and colleague in Congress next year.
All five candidates volunteered for Bernie Sanders or quoted him as inspiration. They all stressed the importance of building a multiracial coalition of the working class to demand that the government treat things like healthcare and housing as rights rather than goods. However, it distinguishes some key features from Sanders – and defies stubborn stereotypes about what and who democratic socialists are. The most obvious are age, race and gender: all are colored people and immigrants or children of immigrants, and all were born and / or raised in the areas they want to represent. Four out of five are under 41 and three out of five are women.
In March, the pandemic forced all five campaigns to move from block-by-block advertising to online campaigns. As the strategy changed, the focus shifted to the immediate needs created by the crisis. “We start all of our calls to voters asking if they need food or medication,” said Mamdani. Like López, he urges his voters to consider why the state is “giving up its responsibility to provide [them] with a worthy life. ”
In the shadow of the catastrophic treatment of the coronavirus pandemic by the Trump administrationGovernor Andrew Cuomo has received attention and praise for his leadership of the state during the pandemic. The self-proclaimed progressives The popularity has increased in the past few months thanks to its sober and informative daily press conferences. But, be first coping with the crisis, insist on cutting Medicaid in the middle, and Refusal to cancel the rent have annoyed many. For the left, these steps increase the urgency to maintain and expand the fragile left-wing collapse that took place in Albany in 2018.
Mayor Bill de Blasio – once a great progressive hope– came under fire because he was noticed Recklessness in his management of the crisis. Some believe His late decision to close public schools led to avoidable death of dozens of Ministry of Education employees. New York’s management of the crisis was over compared unfavorably to that of California and Washington, where government and city officials effectively and coordinated their efforts scientists rather than politicians took the lead,
Since at least 2015, the two stories about their increasingly sharp “public pissing match”- serious liability in the best of times, let alone in a pandemic. Their dispute delayed the closure of New York City and may have resulted in a higher death toll. now her can’t even agree on how many died.
Brisport said both men deserved to be “failed” to cope with the crisis. Mitaynes said it was “disheartening” that different levels of government were unable to work effectively together. Mamdani criticized both, but pointed out that de Blasio is getting “worse press” because Cuomo is “more media savvy”. However, he added: “Cuomo gets an F.… If you are busy surviving and do not pay much attention, you will see a competent manager… Given the facts, you would start to ask why we had such a terrible one Outbreak and a high death toll. “The crisis had been thoroughly mistreated at management level,” from Trump to Cuomo to de Blasio “.
“I’ve never heard of these candidates, but there are facts and bumper stickers, and you can’t run a bumper sticker government,” Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi replied in an email to this criticism. “You shouldn’t run for a job on a platform with misinformation and purity tests. We tell people the facts, good and bad, they made their own judgments, and, as I’ve seen recently, more than 80 percent of New Yorkers our coping with this crisis approved. Maybe I shouldn’t give campaign advice, but nobody will fall for this garbage. “Azzopardi added to the Medicaid cuts:” The numbers have to add up. We had a $ 6 billion hole and the moment we resolved that Covid-19 had opened a $ 14 billion hole. This is a pandemic and Washington has to do its job and help states and communities. ”
For his part, the mayor “devoted his entire career to the struggle for working people and had a clear track record: universal pre-K, historically low crime rates and enforcement, and the most aggressive affordable housing program in the city’s history,” said his press spokesman Freddi Goldstein in an email . “New Yorkers care about results, not panditeria, and we continue to focus on making the city fairer.” She added that de Blasio was “leading the way, demanding shelter, the use of face coverings in public and the closure of schools. His leadership has helped us smooth the curve, and his focus remains on helping the nearly 9 million New Yorkers for whom he’s responsible. ”
Given the failure of the New York leadership, the candidate’s strategy of asking what people need – and delivering – has proven necessary and effective. When asked what led him to Mamdani’s campaign, Omar Abouhamama, a 16-year-old volunteer from Astoria, described how he helped the campaign pack food and prepare meals for neighbors in need. “I like politics,” he said, “but I also like to help people.” He said admiringly of Mamdani: “I don’t [usually] See street politicians helping people themselves. ”
While Mamdani and his competitors highly value Sanders, they have also learned from his mistakes and are developing a new approach based on their own lives and experiences. As Brisport told The interception 2017: “I love Bernie. I would vote for it ten times, ”but Sanders’“ blinder ”saw“ so much from an economic perspective when you need a mix of an economic approach and an approach towards marginalized groups. ”
Forrest made a similar point. “What [Sanders] When it was properly done, the issues that were most important to working people were really spoken, ”she said, citing employment and health care that were“ free ”and“ not related to your job ”. These are “some guidelines that if we had such a president now, we would be much better able to deal with Covid-19.”
That said, she added, “If you still have colored people, women, and are still wondering if your new system has them in mind, you really need to go back and put your coalition a little closer together. The platform was great, but the coalition still had to be worked on. ”
Forrest sees the need to expand Sanders’ coalition as an argument for her candidacy. “So we need people like me at the local level to say,” Bernie Sanders wasn’t crazy – he said something we need and we all have to be on one side. “Until we have all of these MPs, senators who say the same, all these apartment groups who say the same, it will be difficult to get a Bernie Sanders into office.”
Mamdani said that bringing out Sanders’ vision means “not only fighting for a political revolution, but ensuring that the electorate is fundamentally changed,” adding that his campaign has knocked on the doors of voters who ” a consultant would say, “Don’t waste your time, they haven’t voted since 2010. ‘”
López told MTV News in March that it encourages even those who cannot vote because of their citizenship status to get involved. This reminded me of a story Ocasio-Cortez told me in an interview in 2018 about meeting an elderly Bengali couple during advertising. “We sat with them for a long time,” she said, “and probably only one of them was a registered, legitimate Democrat.”
These candidates not only want to introduce new constituencies and expand their coalition, they also want to permanently change Congress and Albany. Mamdani said there are two types of politicians: ideological hardliners and those that change with the wind. “Our task is to choose more people in the first category,” he said using the example of the DSA and “changing the wind direction”.
“There are many people who are injured and need help,” said Mitaynes. “The basic power we want to build is to go beyond this one election campaign, this one election, this one candidate, and cultivate that power and enable people to decide about their future.”