Don’t Be Conned—Vote Yes for a Constitutional Convention
By: Dr. Lenora Fulani
A blue sky with no clouds in sight. The kind of sun that makes everything seem to sparkle – and a breeze most welcome on a still warm late summer Sunday. A perfect day for the 48th Annual African American Day Parade on September 17th, where I had the pleasure of meeting up with many longtime community leaders, including my brother Rev. Jesse Jackson, looking distinguished as always, and my brother Rev. Al Sharpton who, no matter how famous he becomes, always comes back to Harlem.
I was leading a multi-racial, very spirited contingent from the Committee for Independent Community Action, protesting the privatization of NYCHA and its crushing housing policies. We marched up Adam Clayton Powell, Jr Boulevard chanting, “NYCHA says get back. We say fight back!” and the crowds along the sidelines loved it! It didn’t take long before our chant became a boisterous call and response that rang well beyond the parade route.
After several years of working on this issue and the depletion of (truly) affordable housing for people across our city, I thought again as we marched of how poorly represented we are by our politicians–and by we, I mean poor people, Black people and all caring New Yorkers. No matter what crises we face, the politicians continue to live in a world in which they cut deals for their own benefit but are clueless and heartless when it comes to the poor.
As a long-time political independent, I have always believed the political system must be restructured to give more power to the people. That is why I ran for President twice as an independent and why I continue to be a voice to challenge the political machinery, including the Democratic Party which purports to represent us.
Recently, my dear friends at the New York City Independence Clubs approached me about supporting Proposition #1, which will appear on our ballots this November. Prop #1 supports holding a constitutional convention (Con Con) to develop and propose changes to the state constitution to make much-needed reforms to improve the performance of our broken and corrupt State government, strengthen the integrity of our political institutions, and reform our antiquated, anti-democratic electoral system.
I am throwing my support behind the Yes on Prop #1 campaign because any and every time there’s an opportunity for more democracy, we need to grab it. It has become painfully clear that the issues affecting the poor communities in this city – including the preservation of NYCHA housing – will never be properly addressed under the current political arrangement.
I was sorry, but not surprised, to see the NAACP at the Parade handing out leaflets urging people to vote no on Con Con. Despite their long and proud history, the NAACP and many other organizations in the Black community cave in to the pressure to protect the “official liberals” like Mayor de Blasio and a Democratic machine more interested in protecting its power than in making sure poor people don’t get evicted from their homes in Frederick Douglass, John Adams or Ingersoll Houses.
I am proud to stand with Bertha Lewis, Michael Hardy and many other leaders who are supporting the Constitutional Convention. As Bertha reminds us, “…almost all of our most progressive accomplishments were the direct result of a Constitutional Convention…. a convention would not threaten our rights, but strengthen them!”
The latest Sienna Poll (October 6th) of registered voters shows that 50% of independent voters and 53% of African American voters say they will vote yes for a Constitutional Convention. I have been a long standing champion of what has been called the Black and Independent Alliance. This is the coalition that elected President Barack Obama and elected Mayor Michael Bloomberg – and it is the unifying force that I believe will save our country.
Don’t be conned by the Anti Con Con arguments. The unions are telling us that a Con Con may risk the pensions of public employees. Not true! The US Constitution protects all contracts agreed to by the government, and EVERY proposal that comes out of the Con Con gets voted up or down by all the voters in the state. I put my trust in the voters.
Join me and vote for a Constitutional Convention. A “yes” vote means next year we will elect delegates from across our state to serve at a constitutional convention. Then in 2019, the convention will meet and any changes they propose which receive a majority vote of the convention come back to us, the people to vote up or down on our ballots.
The issue is power. The issue is poverty. The issue is our people being able to self-govern. Vote yes on Prop #1.