FLORIDA, July 15, 2012 — Occupy and the Tea Party seem to be different as night and day. Are things really as they appear, though? Might the far right and the far left actually be playing on the same field?
We live in a very complicated era. During times like these, robust national security policies are essential. Just how robust should they be, however? Speaking of national security, that is a big issue in this year’s presidential race. Does President Obama stand a good chance of reelection?
Surely, this question is on the mind of those in the so-called liberty movement: What about Ron Paul and that armband business?
In this second and final part of our discussion, Ed Koch, the storied former mayor of New York City, explains. He also mentions a bit about his legendary political career, and how it all began.
Joseph F. Cotto: Over the last several years, mass movements such as Occupy and the Tea Party have made quite an impact on the political process. Each is largely a result of the recession and popular anger at government malfeasance. Do you believe that both will maintain their strength in the long run? Comprehensively speaking, are these movements as different from one another as pundits tend to claim?
Mayor Ed Koch: Occupy represents the anger in the country at unfairness with no major CEO on Wall Street being prosecuted for criminality during the Great Recession. The Tea Party represents the anger of the right wing at government spending. Both voices will continue for a long time, and each group has crossovers, participating in both groups.
Cotto: During complicated times like these, a robust national security policy is essential. While America can continue to build stronger relationships with proven allies, such as Israel, more should be done to prevent against domestic terrorism as well. What are your opinions on this most challenging matter?
Mayor Koch: There is an ongoing effort to end intelligence-gathering programs impacting on Islamic home-grown terrorists. That effort should be resisted. As a result of NYPD intelligence activities, deplored by some, primarily on the left, 14 terrorist acts in New York City reports the Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, have been prevented since 9/11.
Cotto: Across the political spectrum as of late, libertarianism has emerged resurgent. Specifically in the Republican Party, followers of Ron Paul are storming the establishment’s gates, so to speak. Do you believe that libertarianism is a viable philosophy for governing? What do you think about the Ron Paul movement?
Mayor Koch: Ron Paul’s candidacy for President, for me, was that of a David Duke without an armband. I believe that those who are absolutists and libertarians are often foolish.
Cotto: From San Diego to Boston, election season has arrived once again. Do you have a preferred candidate, or have you yet to make a decision? Regardless, who do you think stands the best chance of winning this November?
Mayor Koch: Barack Obama. I support his reelection and am campaigning for him. I believe current polls also show him as the most likely winner.
Cotto: Now that our discussion is at its end, many readers are probably wondering exactly how it was that you came to be a political powerhouse and legend of sorts. Tell us a bit about your life and career.
Mayor Koch: I got my real start in politics in 1963 by defeating Carmine DeSapio for Democratic District Leader, an unpaid party position. He had been the leader of Tammany Hall, the Democratic Party organization for New York County. He had been defeated in 1961 and was seeking a comeback in 1963, and lost to me in a close election, with me winning by 14 votes. I later served as a Congressman from the 17th C.D., the so-called “silk stocking” district in New York City for 9 years beginning with 1969 and Mayor for 12 years having been elected in 1977 when the city was on the edge of bankruptcy.
What more can possibly be said about Mayor Koch and his career that already hasn’t been?
I can only add my opinion about Koch’s enduring dedication to his constituents; something which, during the late twentieth century, was rivaled only by William Donald Schaefer in Baltimore and George Voinovich in Cleveland.
While the former passed away last year, the latter is still around and we will be hearing from him shortly.
The distinct brand of public service that these men would each become renowned for is sorely lacking in today’s political process. We can all stand to learn a great deal from their respective legacies, needless to say.
About Koch specifically, I believe that one word can be best used to describe his legacy: courage.
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