By Arthur Z. Schwartz
2017 was a horrific year. Trump took office on January 20th, and within 11 days, I had a heart attack! (This is true, but I am joking about the correlation.) He took office on that date and made sure the world would never be the same again.
I don’t like writing about Trump. He dominates the news every day based on some new, outrageous comment, or new untruth. But his ability to numb those of us with progressive or liberal instincts is something we should consider carefully.
Back in 2016, I wrote that Trump’s approach to politics reminded me about what I had read on Hitler. He appeals to xenophobia and racism. He denounces the press as “fake.” He and his supporters are looking for plots everywhere. His worst apologists, first on Fox News and now in Congress, characterize anyone to Trump’s left as worthy of investigation. Just before the New Year, Trump denounced the FBI as being in tatters, and mocked Deputy Director McCabe (a career FBI man) as “biased.” Representative Rooney of Florida called for a “purge” of the FBI, which is very scary language. And although Trump hasn’t attacked Special Counsel Mueller yet, his cohorts are calling for his resignation, and a quick end to his expanding investigation into the shady people involved in the Trump Campaign. Who would have ever thought that I, as a card-carrying progressive, would be rooting for the FBI, and a former FBI Director who was a lifelong conservative Republican? I’m also hoping that the generals atop our military would resist orders by Trump to start a nuclear war (which would justify a crackdown on civil liberties).
Trump was supported by a minority of voters and has authoritarian tendencies. (The populace did not stop Hitler.) He could easily convince himself, after the next Islamic-influenced terror event in the U.S., that we need to take drastic measures. Imagine the massacre in Las Vegas carried out by an Islamic gunman. My point: Keep a watch on Trump, and do what you can in 2018 to help elect Democrats to contested Congressional and Senate seats, so that there is a legislative check on Trump, and on his judicial appointees.
On the good side: Corey Johnson, our City Council Member, is going to be the City Council Speaker. He is all of 35 years old. He has shown himself in his four years in office to be a tireless worker, whose staff provides lots of service. When I got arrested for dismantling surveillance cameras outside then-91-year-old Ruth Berk’s apartment, Corey intervened and made sure that I didn’t spend the day in The Tombs.
While Corey hasn’t bucked the Democratic Party leadership, he hasn’t been its spokesperson either. When the Bernie-crats created a new group, the New York Progressive Action Network, Corey spoke at the founding meeting. He has been respectfully, but forcefully, critical of the Beth Israel shut down. I attended one meeting where he chided the Mount Sinai officials for not building a bigger replacement hospital on 14th Street after they acknowledged the “potential” for doing that in the future. Corey comes to office with the support of the Queens, Bronx, and Brooklyn County leaders, and while he may owe them something for it (staff positions on the Council staff, committee chairmanships for “outer borough” Council members), he was not the Mayor’s first choice. Corey’s boyish charm and genuine pleasure in being out in our community will contrast with a Mayor who remains stiff and distant. He has promised me that he will not forget our district, like Christine Quinn did when she became Speaker.
I’m sure that WestView will hold him to that word.
Arthur Z. Schwartz is the Male Democratic District Leader for Greenwich Village.