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Geo. Clarke

‘Good Government’ Cleans Up
in the New York Municipal Election

(November 1933)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 51, 11 November 1933, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Tiger’s tail has been twisted. The “rascals” have been driven out of office. The “millennium” of the end of “bossism” has come to New York. Honest-to-goodness government is installed in power and the days of corruption, skull-duggery and political racketeering are over. The shining champion of cheapness and honesty in municipal administration, the master demagogue, Fiorello H. LaGuardia is ensconced in City Hall to the great rejoicing of the “economy” experts, the pious Christians, the yellow press, the innumerable office-seekers – not to mention the Big Boys who backed and financed his campaign.

It was a tense campaign filled with recrimination abuse and character assassination in which the right was no doubt shared by all the contestants for the mayoralty alike. There can be no doubt that this election must have been a real tickler to anyone with a sense of humor.

The great issue trumpeted up and down our fair city was boss or no boss. Tammany’s candidate, the others admitted, was a square shooter but “Honest” John O’Brien had an evil genius behind him whispering Mephistofelian advice into his ear. “Holy” Joe McKee, the crusader against Tammany dictation was accused of being the catspaw of the same kind of boss domineering which he inveighed so strongly against. And LaGuardia, ever ready with radical phrases to please the demos, was charged with being a Communist. No less!

A Rude Awakening

The rude awakening will come for the masses in New York when they discover that the election promises to clean up the city, to make an end to corruption, whether carried out or bursting like soap bubbles, will not make a particle of difference in their economic conditions. The dead weight of the four years of abysmal privation, and body-wracking unemployment, will not be lightened when and if the grafters are cleaned out by LaGuardia.

Quite another matter are the promises Mr. LaGuardia has made to introduce “economy” into the city administration, where he contends extravagant waste has prevailed under Tammany. When LaGuardia talks of “economy” he is not addressing himself to the workers but to the gentlemen of Wall Street who will supervise his actions in office. The New York City government is saddled with a huge debt to Morgan, Rockefeller et al., who want it honored, the principal and the interest. The panaceas heralded by LaGuardia and others, that dispensing with useless office holders will balance the budget and provide funds to meet the city’s obligations are so much election ranting. If this debt is to be met – and the bankers are demanding their pound of flesh – then the demagogic phrase-mongering of LaGuardia will give way to cold reality.

The necessary funds will come out of the hides of the toiling population of the city of New York. Education facilities will be stripped and the wages of the teachers cut. The nickel fare will pass into oblivion. Unemployment relief will be drastically slashed from the miserable pittance it is today; the Republican instead of the Tammany camp-followers will be its chief beneficiaries. Injunctions, police terrorism, strike breaking – it is a pipe-dream to expect any change towards liberalism from LaGuardia and his retinue. The mayor has changed but the system remains. Capitalism rules. The workers suffer.

The Labor Vote

For the militants and revolutionists, the results of the recent elections are hardly gratifying. Under the elusive sway of the NRA, the tantalizing promises of LaGuardia, the brain-trying confusion of the campaign, the masses in their groping backwardness cast their votes for the representatives of the capitalist parties. Barring the vote stealing, election gerrymandering and violence at the polls – these are a constant factor – the parties purporting to represent the workers made a frightfully poor showing.

The Socialist party, and its standard bearer Charles Solomon, whose whole campaign was of such a pink-tea reform nature that LaGuardia stole his thunder, receiving three-fourths of the liberal votes cast for Hillquit last year. The socialist vote dropped from 249,887 to 63,450. So indistinguishable were the programs of LaGuardia and Solomon that the prevailing opinion among the socialist voters of a year ago was to vote for the man who had a chance to get elected.

The Vote for the C.P.

The Communist party and its mayoralty candidate, Robert Minor, received 26,564 votes or an increase of 2,500 votes over the vote recorded for Patterson last year. Considering the huge increase of voters this year the Communist vote has remained stationary. The campaign conducted by Minor and the Stalinists many times sunk into the most vulgar opportunism. The crimes of Stalinism in the unions and in the class struggle in this city, the repercussions of their bankruptcy throughout the world, is sadly registered in this election.

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