This is Issue 64.2 of Digestable, your thrice-weekly mouthful of things happening in the world.
Today’s news, fermented:
Like any self-respecting New Yorker waiting for results of a ranked-choice vote, I didn’t look at the news at all last night, except to gratefully receive a text of a tweet declaring that Andrew Yang won’t be the city’s next mayor.
This morning I woke up and immediately opened the news. The first thing I saw was this breakdown of first-choice votes, of which about 84% were tallied.
At a glance—thank you, laborious liberal arts degree that had me peering at maps and biking around neighborhoods for a couple of years—there are some pretty clear demographic trends.
Eric Adams is a Black man, but is also a former cop, and certainly an establishment candidate; it’s a bummer to see that some of the most systematically neglected, and Blackest and brownest parts of the city, ranked Eric first. This is not the guy who will abolish the police.
Maya Wiley captured the young vote, according to my unscientific peek at the neighborhoods in yellow. Look at a map of the most gentrified parts of NYC, and that’s where Maya’s constituency is.
Kathryn Garcia did a classique privileged-but-not-too-privileged path through NYC public schools (PS 321 and Stuyvesant, if ya know, ya know), and also was head of the Sanitation department. Her constituency almost exactly lines up with those who share these identities—Manhattan, the richest county in the state, plus parts of Brooklyn that are liberal-center, and parts of Staten Island, home to many sanitation workers.
And then there’s Andrew Yang, who seems like he solidly captured votes in majority Chinese neighborhoods, as well as of the Orthodox Jews, who, like Yang, thrive off of policies that are exclusionary and capitalist. (No, I will not say more about that here, but if you’d like to buy me a stiff drink, we can get into it.)
So what’s the take here? This is just the tally of who voters ranked first, so it’ll be awhile before the winner emerges, but first choices tell a story. I think there are two big potential takeaways here.
The first is that, based on the alignment I laid out above, no candidate campaigned in a way that successfully broke through the identity politics wall that most voters live behind. People’s first choices aligned with how they see themselves, more or less.
The second is still tbd: it’s possible that candidates did a really good job campaigning for the coveted spot of second place on ranked-choice ballots. We’ll see if that’s true in the coming weeks.
I didn’t vote in this election, because I’m registered elsewhere, but I know a lot of people who did. This is just the first of many crowded, ranked-choice elections for the city. A friend suggested to me that one of the best things about ranked-choice is that it encourages much broader, bolder, and less-conventional candidates to run. Ranked-choice frees us of the false binary of a two-party system, and the scare tactics about how third-party candidates take away votes from progressive candidates.
What I will say is that history shows us that men have not done a good job of running New York City, and any evidence as definitive should be enough to suggest it’s time to consider an alternative. All politicians have their faults, but I think both Wiley and Garcia are actually up to the task of being mayor, and have the ~scientific~ advantage of not being men.
I know the above rant is a little lacking in links, so come with me on a short journey to tie a few other things in.
Recently, I’ve been listening to Season 2 of The Last Archive, focused on the origins of doubt. This is not my favorite podcast, in large part because the sowing of doubt is largely accredited to politicians, and thus far leaves out mention of corporations.
Thusly I offer you the fifth episode of Subvert, which dives deep on the origins of the corporate playbook, of which sowing doubt is an instrumental chapter.
Two of the most timely illustrations of the damage wrought by tactics in the corporate playbook are the climate crisis and ongoing vaccine apartheid.
This article talks about how wealthy countries’ failure to interfere with vax corporations’ profits, yielding today’s vaccine apartheid, is a sneak preview of the climate apartheid to come, as global warming continues full-tilt. What a stellar example of how corporate tactics bring about political deference!
So what does this have to do with the NYC mayor’s race?
Well, back to the first takeaway from these early results. Both politics and corporate marketing are devoted to convincing people that politicians and products are the things/ideas/leaders that people want. Tapping into identity politics, and fear of the other, and comfort in the known, is a manifestation of the sowing of doubt.
I think the moral of this story is that anyone running for office—or any corporation vying for political influence and consumer endorsement—is trying to win over trust and deference from people, often without actual regard for those people.
Looking at these eletion results, and living in the hellfires of corporate welfare that is late racial capitalism, I suppose what I’m trying to do is actually sow a little more doubt—to encourage us to cut through the marketing and politicking that vies for power, whether it’s candidates for mayor or corporations trying to profit off of a global crisis.
Here are some rats, for your metaphoric interpretation.
Brought to you by the superb Latifah Azlan.
We've all been a Petty Ex.
That's just the tea, okay? No use running away from it or pretending like all of our relationships have ended super amicably with absolutely no resentment on anyone's part. The constant social media refresh, asking friends of friends if they've talked about the break up yet, stalking their new hookups and partners online -- we've all done it before! No shame, just a slight hint of embarassment, but take it all in stride and know that you and Alex Rodriguez, professional Major League athlete and Jennifer Lopez' ex, are not that different from each other.
As you may know, J. Lo has been rekindling her hot romance with former beau Ben Affleck. Homegirl is truly living her version of a Hot Girl Summer and she's got Ben wrapped around her finger. The couple have been photographed all over the place and they've been spending a lot of time together. Ben is even considering buying a yacht to celebrate their reunion, which, that's when you truly know it's real, folks. The most I've had a man spend on me is a Fitbit that I stopped wearing after a month because I became too obsessed and competitive with the device that I was picking fights with this man for having a higher step count than me. A yacht is obviously a much better investment, celebration, and symbol of two people's love that I'm actually getting kind of mad no one has ever done this for me.
Anyway, this is all probably only slightly upsetting for Alex Rodriguez, who up until a few months ago was engaged to J. Lo and had been for the past two-ish years. Their breakup was a somewhat protracted, "will they, won't they" situation that I honestly did not pay much attention to at the time because I don't really care. So I'm sure Alex was caught a little off guard when J. Lo moved on as quickly as she did with a former flame. And unlike us normies, it's not as easy to just switch off from being completely in the know about your ex's current activities considering the relentless coverage of Bennifer 2.0 we've been getting in the last three weeks. And I suppose since he couldn't beat them, Alex decided to join them -- by renting a summer pad close to where J. Lo is currently staying in the Hamptons and partying with Ben's ex, Lindsay Shookus.
LOL. This merely reinforces my belief that men are truly so much pettier and dramatic than women are. This season of The Bachelorette made that very clear to me but Alex Rodriguez being a totally loony ex and trying to find ways to still make inroads into J. Lo's life after she very clearly is moving on from their relationship solidifies that belief. To be fair to Alex, his publicist did release a statement saying that he and Lindsay have been friends for many, many years and that there is nothing romantic happening between the two. I suppose that's possible. Alex professionally played baseball with the New York Yankees for 12 years and Lindsay has worked at Saturday Night Live since 2002. I guess they could have ran in the same circles or known people who knew people who knew them or whatever it takes to make friends and be invited to parties in the Hamptons every summer. But what an absolutely amazing coincidence that would be! And even so, any fully grown adult would make better decisions than renting a house in the same Hamptons neighborhood as their ex and partying with that ex's current partner's ex, right?
All I'm saying is that Alex is kind of doing the most. The rest of us are trying to enjoy Bennifer Redux but he keeps elbowing his way into the picture and it's cringy. Sir, you are a 45-year-old man. Please go to therapy instead.