Geraldo in 2001

Written by Andrey Slivka on . Posted in Breaking News, Posts.

And yet, the derision of
the opinionmaking classes aside, Geraldo’s running for mayor might be one
of the better things that could happen to our local political culture, a culture
so stale and sclerotic–there are few creatures more temperamentally conservative
than the traditional "New York liberal" who persists in defining local
politics–as to make the zombie show currently passing for a presidential
race appear an exercise in visionary statecraft. At least Gore and Bush have,
to whatever effect, at points in their careers associated themselves with what
they claimed were the innovating wings of their respective parties. With the
possible exception of Herman Badillo, who’s been known to think independently
on occasion (particularly on education issues), and Bratton (who presents his
own problems), the 2001 candidate pool is a convocation of familiar faces and
tired political professionals. There’s little good reason for, say, Hevesi
or Vallone to be mayor, aside from that each has loitered long enough in the
local Democratic Party, like the kid who hangs around the pool hall waiting
to be singled out for errands by the presiding thug.

For those of us who tend
to align ourselves politically with whatever phenomenon’s likely to generate
the greatest amount of creative dissonance, an independent Rivera candidacy
sounds interesting. Rivera’s meretricious, but in a flamboyant, honest
way. To put it one way, he’s honestly shameless. Rivera’s a great
character; he’d infuse entertainment value into New York’s sere political
landscape to an extent that hasn’t been seen since the Koch era, and arguably
since the Mailer/Breslin ticket of 1969. As a product of the Lower East Side,
and a former Legal Aid attorney who worked closely with the Young Lords, he
comes by his old-time Democratic politics more honestly and, just as importantly,
more interestingly than do meritocrat professionals like, say, Mark Green. As
for Rivera’s unorthodox qualifications for candidacy, they’re refreshing
when set against the grim machine professionalism that’s usually indicative
of local politics. It would be fascinating to watch Rivera, a critic of Giuliani-era
policing, take on possible Republican nominee and former police commissioner
Bratton; even more fascinating to see him confront the Republican Badillo and
Democrat Ferrer in a three-way Hispanic contest.