New York’s Democratic Socialists want a revolution — but does anyone else?
Fresh off of surprising upset victories in this summer’s Democratic primaries for state Assembly and Senate, the city’s Democratic Socialists are targeting the City Council primaries next year, when 35 of the 51 seats will be without an incumbent.
The Democratic Socialists of America-NYC is planning to back a slate of council candidates who, if elected, would create a “socialist caucus” down at City Hall.
According to the strategy document obtained by The Post, one litmus test will be agreement to “defund the police” by 50 percent, slashing the NYPD’s budget by $3 billion.
Will they succeed? Well, it’s not as though the city has lacked for left-leaning, socialist and even Marxist elected officials. Retiring Bronx Rep. Jose Serrano has famously feted both Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez in his congressional district. Brooklyn Assemblyman Charles Barron and his wife, Councilwoman Inez Barron, are black nationalists who have spoken admiringly of Castro.
Meanwhile, the highest-ranking DSA-aligned elected official, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, appears to have given her blessings to the effort. And Tiffany Cabán, who came close to winning the special election for Queens district attorney, announced her decision to run for City Council.
One veteran operative, who’s still looking for a mayoral candidate to back, says the DSA has the advantage of being unified — from strategy to messaging — and having tons of money. “They’re in a pretty decent position to win a number of council seats,” he told me.
But a socialist revolution isn’t what many New Yorkers, even Democrats, want.
Some in the city’s minority communities, where DSA-backed candidates won recent primaries, are chafing at radical white socialists picking their “leaders.” In anticipation of this latest DSA plan, a couple of Brooklyn elected officials told me that they and their allies are gearing up for a political battle next year.
The DSA also has alienated some with its stance on Israel, and ignited a firestorm last month by distributing a questionnaire asking City Council candidates if they will pledge to not visit Israel and support a boycott of the Jewish state.
That led about roughly 50 state lawmakers to sign a joint letter condemning the DSA’s anti-Israel litmus test. The group later issued an unconvincing clarification, claiming the question was about ending taxpayer-funded political junkets, not targeting the Jewish state.
At the end of the day, the average Democrat isn’t looking for revolutionary change — she simply wants a government that’s honest and picks up the garbage. Black voters in areas seeing spikes in gun violence and murders don’t want to be told that the young shooters are simply misunderstood angst-ridden kids. And they certainly don’t want to “defund the police.” They want cops on the beat who’ll quell the violence without resorting to brutality.
Voters in many parts of the city also emigrated from failed socialist states. They’ve seen this rhetoric before.
A couple of DSA-backed insurgents may win by virtue of the ranked-choice voting, but their socialist revolution will have to wait.
Michael Benjamin, a former assemblyman, is a member of The Post’s editorial board.
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