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Beggar Thy Neighbor

Friday, August 26, 2005
You probably haven't heard about Bronx Democratic Party Chair Jose Rivera's interview about the construction of a filtration plant. What could be more boring? Well, the fact that he made a bunch of anti-semitic remarks while he did so. Rivera admits that he built the plant where he did in order to "stick it" to the Jews of Riverdale. In other words he used his institutional power to pursue a private vendetta. What's absurd about this is that the thing wasn't even built in Riverdale, but Norwood, which is primarily working class black and latino - the constituencies Rivera claims to champion.

What makes Rivera's remarks even more disturbing is that he makes it perfectly clear that his primary political loyalty is to his own ethnic group (Puerto Ricans), and that he is perfectly willing to marginalize every other group, even ones in his own party. He is also perfectly willing to engage in race-baiting to win consolidate his personal political position. And here I thought only Republicans played this game.

In my view, the number one political problem faced by this country, and by our party, is ethnic tribalism. Far too many Americans view politics as a game of "us" against "them." They are ready, no eager, to enhance their group's status at the expense of others. If someone else has to suffer for their victory, so much the better. It doesn't matter if these group distinctions are drawn along ethnic, racial, religious, or gender lines - it's all the same thing, and all disgusting. Screwing over some other group isn't going to educate my kids or pay my bills.

With the recent discussion over what role the anti-war movement had in the rupturing of the New Deal coalition, we should never forget what really drove white southerners into the arms of the Republican party (and blacks to the Democrats): civil rights. Call it an "ideological realignment" if you will. More than a little of ideological loyalties seem to be driven by what ethnic group someone belongs to.

Until we can get past this evil and counterproductive brand of beggar they neighbor politics, we are never going to deal with our real problems.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 10:46 AM
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