Letter to the Editor: Sen. Squadron’s resignation a Democratic Party failure
To the Editor,
A few weeks ago, I met Sen. Squadron at his office as part of a delegation of his constituents from Indivisible Nation BK (INBK), a grassroots activist group composed of Brooklynites who came together to fight for progressive causes following the unexpected election of Donald Trump.
One of the first things we did during our meeting was thank Sen. Squadron for his hard work on electoral reform in Albany. After all, Sen. Squadron’s signature issue for the better part of the last decade was making New York state’s government more transparent and responsive to its citizens.
He went so far as to sit across the table from me and lament the fact that he hasn’t had a primary challenger in years. He made it clear that he thought the occasional intraparty battle of ideas is a good, healthy thing for our democracy.
So you can imagine how surprised INBK was to learn that Sen. Squadron decided to leave his post mid-term after the window to hold a Democratic primary had already passed. In all likelihood, his seat will be filled by decree from the New York County chairman since most of his district’s constituents live in Manhattan. Sen. Squadron has expressed his hope that Brooklynites will have some sort of say in the matter. We will see what pittance our cousins across the river decide to give us.
Have no illusions. Since the district is so heavily Democratic, whoever is handpicked by the New York County party boss (maybe with some input from the Kings County party boss) will likely win in the November special election. And as Sen. Squadron himself recognized at our meeting, it is highly likely that the designee, probably a Manhattanite, will use the awesome power of incumbency to win re-election over and over again.
It is axiomatic that the right to govern is derived from the consent of the governed. Now, no one will even bother to ask the governed for their consent. Instead, one or two party bosses operating behind closed doors will decide who governs us.
Some have even reported that the senator’s decision was made with the consent of certain elements within the Democratic Party establishment. In any case, Sen. Squadron himself is a four-term Democratic state senator and can be properly identified as a member of that establishment. Thus, in this instance, the Democratic Party has failed us.
Therefore, we call upon the Democratic Party in New York state to condemn the undemocratic process that will be used to pick Sen. Squadron’s successor and to find a solution that does not disenfranchise our community.
Steve Wagner is a Brooklyn-based activist and trial lawyer. He is a steering committee member of Indivisible Nation BK. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in History from Boston College and a Juris Doctor degree from Duke University School of Law. Prior to attending law school, Mr. Wagner studied Mandarin Chinese at Zhejiang University International College. He also worked as the opposition research director for the 2010 re-election campaign of Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY).
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