September 6, 2007

Dealing with the Disconnect

Every now and then I get to enjoy the results of a conversation I started, and it's been a good week for hearing other people state really clearly what's on my mind.

I posted a piece about Upstate's past and future at Living in Dryden and at The Albany Project, and got great comments both places. The last one (so far) at TAP does a very clear job of explaining the problem with Upstate's place in New York State government.

NYCO writes:

To me, the problem is the fundamental disconnect between upstate and downstate and that all the wealth downstate is holding us up, perhaps, but is not *solving* anything for upstate. If this is an Empire State and NYC is the Eternal City, this Rome is just not administering its provinces very well. Of course, the problem is not downstate but Albany; how does upstate NY disconnect itself from Albany?

My feeling is that without NYC you would see upstate continue to struggle, obviously, but there would be a fighting chance for it to discover some internal political vitality. That's what's missing. Without NYC, upstate Democrats would have to form a real party with real responses to real issues, not just sucking at Albany's teat and making nice with Sheldon Silver and other downstate power brokers. That's the big prize inherent in a a theoretical splitting: energized internal upstate politics.

Perhaps there are only two choices available: an upstate that is poor and politically dead, or an upstate that is poor and politically conscious and alive. If one had a gun to one's head, which alternative would one choose?

It's a hard question. Upstate is politically alive today in some ways, but the politics around the Upstate-Downstate relationship seem trapped in the amber of liberal vs. conservative views of state government. Those are important - but they don't say much about the relationship.

I'd love to find a way for Upstate to develop a political identity that can examine the relationship between the parts of the state, not just the usual Democrat/Republican conflicts funneled through Albany's balances of power and money. I haven't found that way yet, though...

Posted by simon at September 6, 2007 12:43 PM in ,
Note on photos