Bob Lonsberry

Bob Lonsberry

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Lonsberry: DO MONROE CO DEMS SHORT BLACK VOTERS?

Why does the Monroe County Democratic Party work so hard to keep black people out of positions of power?

 

               Isn’t advancing the interests of black people kind of what the Democratic Party is supposed to be about?

 

               Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a race activist. I’m a white guy, and I’m not an ally. I don’t believe in critical race theory or affirmative action or that there is systemic racism. And I don’t believe black lives matter any more than any other lives.

 

               But I believe in fairness and the American way.

 

               I believe that every person is my equal and my brother or sister.

 

               And I believe that if you earn something, you ought to have it – to include political power.

 

               I also believe that you can respect other people’s quests, and rejoice in their success, even if their quest is not your own. I believe it is possible to see and admire the priorities of other people, to recognize when they are being wronged, and to hope for their triumph.

 

               Which gets to my point.

 

               I believe the Democrat establishment of Monroe County has consistently pushed black leaders aside, even while using black voters to win election after election.

 

               Black Democrats in Monroe County get to push the bus, but they don’t get to drive it. And the way I look at it, in politics, if you’re not at the wheel, you’re getting screwed.

 

               In the last two years, the Monroe County Democratic establishment has pushed aside a black county clerk candidate, tried to get the black future president of the county legislature fired from her job, stonewalled the creation of five majority-black county legislature seats, shot down the appointment of the county’s first black public defender, and is doing everything it can to keep the county’s first black congressman from getting elected.

 

               All of those would have been firsts.

 

               First black county clerk, first black public defender, first black congressman, first time blacks had been seen as likely to win more than two county legislature seats.

 

               All shot down or opposed by the Democratic Party and its power structure.

 

               In punishment of a race that unfailingly supports the Democratic Party on Election Day.

 

               In Monroe County, about 14% of the residents are black, while an estimated quarter of enrolled Democrats are black. That makes black people a sizable bloc in the local party, and in many countywide or city/suburban districts they are the key to Democrat victory. More correctly, in countywide and city/suburban districts, they often are the only Democratic path to victory.

 

               That makes black voters crucial to Democrat success.

 

               Without motivated black voters in the city, Democrat Adam Bello wouldn’t be county executive today. Without motivated black voters in the city, Democrat Congresswoman Louise Slaughter would have been beaten by Republican Mark Assini, and her successor, Democrat Joe Morelle, would have been beaten by Republican Jim Maxwell.

 

               That’s not opinion, that’s math.

 

               And that kind of significance ought to buy power – the same way it always has in our representative government. Votes are supposed to equal power. That’s the genius of our Republic.

 

               Black people, again, are 14% of the Monroe County population – not so far behind Italians, who are 18% of the population. Given the fact that black people enroll in the Democratic Party at about twice the rate of Italian people, it is certain that there are more black Democrats in Monroe County there are than Italian Democrats.

 

               And yet, while no black Democrats have been put forward by the party to countywide executive or federal office, all three such Democrat officeholders – all supported by the party establishment – are Italian.

 

               Let me restate that more clearly. There are more black Democrats in Monroe County than there are Italian Democrats. Nonetheless, the county Democratic Party has put forward and elected Joe Morelle, Adam Bello and Jamie Romeo to the most senior local political positions while not even nominating a single black person for any of those positions. Not this election cycle, not the last election cycle, not ever.

 

               And, again, the Democratic organization pushed aside a black candidate for county clerk and is currently all in on an effort to defeat a black candidate for Congress, and just last week lined up to vote against a black candidate for public defender. All that while simultaneously seeking to sabotage the creation of five black-majority seats in the county legislature. Seats which, by the way, are mathematically fair and mandated by most readings of the Voting Rights Act.

 

               Black people are over-represented as Democrat voters, and under-represented as Democrat candidates.

 

               Especially for executive and legislative positions with true power in governing and directing the community.

 

               And that’s not right.

 

               It’s easy to name an airport after somebody, or give up a few minor judgeships, but real power, the power to make decisions and lead, for Monroe County Democrats, that’s still a Caucasian thing.

 

               And that’s neither fair nor the American way.


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