Editorial: Democrats and Ricky

fuera Ricky
Puerto Ricans march to oust the governor. Photo from Twitter by Marcos Caballero.

Ricky Rosselló and the Democrats

Will this editorial be dated by the time that it has been fully written? Huge crowds are in the streets, on strike, blocking major roads, demanding the Puerto Rican governor’s “expulsion.” It seems as if his departure into ignominious history will come at any moment, sooner rather than later.

The two big rivals in Puerto Rican politics, until the tables just turned and one of them lost that status, were and arguably are both Democrats. San Juan’s mayor, Carmen Yulín Cruz, is the front runner for the nomination of the island’s Popular Democratic Party (PDP) for governor. Puerto Rico’s governor, Ricky Rosselló, was until his recent forced resignation of his party post, head of the island’s New Progressive Party (PNP). Almost all Puerto Ricans on the island who consider themselves Republicans align with the PNP, whose non-voting delegate in the US Congress caucuses with the Republicans. The small corporate wing of the island’s Democrats also tend to go with the PNP. In the PDP there are those who consider US politics a colonial abstraction not worthy of much attention, but those party members who more dearly value their American citizenship are almost all Democrats.

Rosselló’s people are big ones for rigged votes. The arranged for the election of officers process of the Puerto Rican chapter of the Democratic Party to proceed without notice to the PDP member Democrats. They called a referendum on statehood that was worded to insult all other factions and was boycotted by everyone but the PNP – so the 23 percent of Puerto Ricans who showed up at the polls were nearly unanimous in favor even though by all objective measures there is not and never has been a majority on the island for statehood.

The DNC hailed Rosselló, his referendum and his Puerto Rican Democratic Party leadership slate. So long as oligarchs win – Rosselló is one of the richest Puerto Ricans – that qualifies as “democratic” to some. But the Rosselló slate within the Democratic Party began to fall apart early on. The co-chair of Hillary Clinton’s finance council, leading PNP figure and expensive campaign consultant Francisco Domenech was forced to resign from the DNC after his arrest on domestic violence charges. And now the world has these chat records of sexist, homophobic, bullying good old boys with the governor as their ringleader.

Rosselló says that although the chats were inappropriate, they were not criminal and he should not have to step down as governor. But a group of local law professors points out that those messages suggest financial crimes and the laundering of the proceeds, and the leak came just about a week after the arrest of several persons, including two former top members of the Rosselló cabinet, for allegedly misappropriating more than $15 million.

Perhaps even worse, the mayor told the truth about a Hurricane Maria death toll that ran into the thousands, while Rosselló for a long time gave Donald Trump the number 64 to use, and only belatedly and incompletely admitted that the number was grossly low. A Harvard study estimates the death toll at 4,645. Even as the death toll lie and its exposure were unfolding, Rosselló’s appointees gave the contract to restore electricity to the island to a three-person start-up company owned by a prominent Trump supporter. (The deal was ridiculous and had to be rescinded.) So now in the chat leaks, we find the governor and his inner circle joking about the hurricane death toll and damage.

So do Democrats need to veer right to beat the right? Do we need to go with the donor base? Do we need to put the most expensive consultants money can buy on the DNC? Do we need people to reach across the aisle and accommodate Republicans? The corporate wing of the party did that in the case of Puerto Rico and the people there got Ricky Rosselló.

We shall see the extent that Yulín is vindicated. She’s running for governor and she’s one of the four Bernie Sanders campaign co-chairs. She has DNC members vilifying her, for specifically what they won’t say. The things that Ricky’s good old boys say? Never mind. That crowd is an unreliable source.


Martin Luther King Jr. quotation. Photo by the 25th Air Force.


Bear in mind…


You don’t have to wait for the train, you have to make the train come.

Clara González


Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should just live next door and just visit now and then.

Katharine Hepburn


Behind every great fortune there is a crime.

Honoré de Balzac


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