Mixer For Ferrer

Howard Dean, video clip (1 min 25 sec)
Fernando Ferrer, video clip (3 min)
Heather Woodfield, video clip (1 min 44 sec)

Ferrer Gets Aggressive At A Ferrer Fundraiser
Mixing It For Ferrer

The most important person I met today was Leecia Eve. (Who Is Leecia Eve?) Or rather yesterday, since it is already past midnight. Wow. I met Bill Clinton, now I need to meet Amitabh Bachchan. I met Leecia Eve, now I need to meet Barack Obama. She is a Ms. Sunshine, real cheerful, positive, with a warm personality. She is a bundle of energy. And of course she is whip smart.

"You are a great person. You need to go all the way. People like Barack Obama and you need to help take race relations in this country to a whole new, different level," I said.

"That is the plan," she said.

People like Martin Luther King struggled against physical segregation. Jesse Jackson struggled against the backlash to the MLK achievements, and to consolidate those achievements. Barack Obama and Leecia Eve get to find solutions to both old fashioned racism experienced by the ethnic minorities in the lower income brackets, but also the racism of the glass walls and ceilings, the racism of social segregation. MLK marched, Obama and Eve get to master the electoral process, the political process. They get to do it the meritocratic way. They get to do it by having excelled at education themselves, by setting examples. They get to do it by keeping discussions on race relations alive. They get to do it by becoming role models. They get to do it by outsmarting their opponents.

Race and gender are elephants in the room and they ask to be greeted. The conversation has to be kept alive on both. Snuffing conversation on the two topics is to try and maintain the status quo of inequality and refuse to help make further progress.

And then Mason asked his question: "Let me ask you something political. Are you married?"

After about 10 seconds I said, "Let me ask you something political. What is Hillary like?"

She had great things to say about Hillary.

"I googled your name and ended up at the homepage of actor James Dean," I told Jim Dean, Howard Dean's brother who was in town for the event.

I showed up for the event about 10 minutes early, and Heather noticed.

Ferrer tore it apart all over again tonight.

"I listened to your speech at the fundraiser last night. It was fantastic. If we get to see that same Ferrer during the two debates, we are in good shape," I said to him.

To one of this staffers I was more blunt: "If we see during the two debates the Ferrer we saw last night, Mike Bloomberg just went to Las Vegas and lost a hundred million dollars."

Ferrer has this amazing track record as Bronx President, he is right on the policy, he is a Democrat in a progressive city. As long as he can present himself as an aggressive progressive, and as long as there can be a major get-out-the-vote effort, I don't see how Bloomberg could win. TV ads work, people end up hypnotized. But if white Dems on Staten Island will not vote for Ferrer because he is not white (he looks white to me), maybe we should kick Staten Island like Italy kicked Sicily. Maybe we should point that out explicitly so as to fuel a massive turnout among voters who get offended by racism, white and non-white alike. This is no cat and mouse game. The executive of the capital city of the world is at stake. This is not just about picking up garbage, although that it is, and Ferrer can deliver as good and better on that one too; this is about the urban agenda all over America, this is about the progressive agenda all over the country, this is about projecting America's inclusive heritage all over the world. A lot is at stake, and victory is in sight.

The first person I had a long conversation with was this Lebanese former diplomat, now an American, a DFNYC veteran from when Dean was still a presidential candidate. American politics is not about ideology, he said, it is machine. They want to know how many votes you can collect for them, how much money you can raise for them.

I disagree. I want to have the option to shape the progressive agenda if I can come up with good enough ideas. My strength is not that there are over 50,000 Nepalis in the US, although that it is, and not that an average Indian American family makes twice as much as an average white family, although that makes room for some serious money collection. When one Indian runs for Congress, Indians all over the country pour in money. I know that intimately. Ayesha Nariman ran for Congress somewhere in New York state, and she got that benefit, though she lost. I was an advisor to the campaign. I was at college. Telecommuting. Though I don't feel I got to contribute a whole lot.

My primary contribution is this blog itself.

But he had a great many experiences to relate to. He was retired. He said he had a factory in Egypt, and that is where his money came from now. A diplomat turned multi-national corporation person. He was cool. Percy, his name tag said. I had the longest conversation of the evening with him. I appreciated that. Otherwise people at parties sometimes can act like you are walking on the sidewalk, in a hurry. And it was before many had arrived. So it felt like we had the place for ourselves. He had a very pleasant presence about him.

Recently I have been feeling like I have been doing too many DFNYC events, meeting too many local celebrities. And I did not enjoy donning a suit today. I hate the tie. I had to pull it down an inch. I like the trouser and jacket individually, but not together. At least my suit today was brown and the jacket double-breasted, and it was tailor made in my hometown in Nepal, so those were plus points. But I don't want to put it on again for a long time. I like baggy shirts, but not with dress pants and a jacket. Comfortable shoes, could be leather, baggy jeans, or even baggy trousers, baggy shirt. Those are things I like.

I feel like stepping back from DFNYC a little bit, buying a monthly pass, and just seeing the city, meeting regular people, driving around in my car, meeting a whole bunch of regular people. Through DFNYC I have had a celebrity overdose. I want to see this city like I have seen this country. I want to get a feel for every neighborhood. I just want to meet a ton of regular people. For the sake of it, and also because that is what I need to be doing to kickstart my online marketing business that has taken a backseat to my political work. Stepping back from DFNYC will also give me more time for Nepal. Things are heating up at that end.

And the next few weeks are hectic. Leaders from the seven political parties in Nepal are passing through town. After they are gone, the leading human rights activist in Nepal will also be passing through town. Recently he got made honorary citizen of an Italian town. I hope to enage in some peace making work. That can get emotionally challenging. The logic part is actually quite simple.

I got to watch people like Stringer and Schneiderman talk. I asked the latter about how the Republicans did the redistricting thing to try to kick him out of the Senate. That really got his interest piqued. And he elaborated on that episode. I have heard he is a major presence in the State Senate.

"People up there in Albany don't like New York City. That is why it is important for us to take the Senate and the Assembly and the Governorship," he said during his speech later.

And Lewis gave a great speech. And Heather gave a great speech. And today I finally got to meet Bernadette. Now there is only one DFNYC Director that I have not met.

Lewis was acting naughty. Once after the program was mostly over and most people had left, I pointed my camera at him and a few others with him. He goes, "Paramendra has a camera. Duck!"

And the four of them acted like they were going to hide behind the bar table. I thought I had just complimented the guy on his great speech.

And Ferrer thanked Heather for her "leadership and all you do."

Abhi showed up. He is the coolest dude. And not only because he was the only Indian before I showed up at DFNYC. And not only because he is up there smart. We have easy conversations. While I was talking to Abhi, a DFNYC lady who I have seen before but have not talked for long, approached and mentioned the "controversial blog." I don't understand. What's controversial about this blog? All blog entries are invitations to conversations, all come with comments sections. Readers have the option to start their own blogs and engage me in dialogue.

The social progressive agenda is also an issue inside the progressive movement. For that I have introduced the spectrum concept. It is 1-10. 5-10 are progressive. But 5 is not a 6 is not a 7 is not an 8 is not a 9 is not a 10. It is important for progressives to maintain a respectful dialogue among themselves while they themselves work on climbing the ladder in their individual capacities. Race and gender are both elephants in the room. But my spectrum and dialogue concepts really help us deal with them both in a productive way.

Another highlight of the evening was to learn Dan Jacoby is running for State Senate. I hugged the guy for the first time. And I have been meeting him for months. His district is the western part of Queens. There must be a whole bunch of South Asians around there. Political acitivism is all good, but if you really want to make change, you got to get hold of some of the levers of power.

Back home I shot an email to Leila. "Meeting Leecia Eve was mind boggling."

93 photos.


Hugh Jardon said…
Keep up the great work, Paramendra - these DFNYC folks sound very interesting - just what the Democratic party needs!