Melissa Mark-Viverito Misses the Mark

Was anyone in New York City more dismayed by Donald Trump’s victory than Melissa Mark-Viverito?  True, the Mayor looked pretty bummed out at his press conference yesterday, but one gets the sense that he didn’t have quite so much personally at stake in the election result.  Of course Bill de Blasio now has to go hat-in-hand to a President who owes him nothing, and probably thinks of him as a fool, but the mayor never really expected anything for himself from a Hillary Clinton administration anyway, except for an easy time in getting federal aid and plenty of White House access.  He will keep being mayor, and will probably even get another term.

 Melissa Mark-Viverito, on the other hand, had banked heavily on a Clinton win.  She came out very early for Hillary, and made herself available for all kinds of surrogacy opportunities.  She probably wanted to get the job of immigration policy czar that Clinton announced while she was in town for the DNC, and she was also probably counting on Clinton to pardon Oscar Lopez Rivera in exchange for all her hard work on behalf of the campaign.  There were likely all kinds of understandings about Puerto Rican debt and sovereignty that were mutually acknowledged as well. 

 The Speaker spent a lot of time working for Clinton in Florida, drumming up votes among the Puerto Rican expat community that has grown dramatically in the last few years since the economic crisis hit the territory.  It’s no secret that increasing Latino turnout was a key element of the Clinton election strategy.  It’s also no secret that Mark-Viverito was committed to promoting the idea that the Latino vote would be the decisive factor in a Clinton victory.

 For the last few weeks, Mark-Viverito’s Twitter feed and other statements were a constant hum hitting two topics over and over: that Hillary would win; and that Latinos would elect her.  “The Latino vote will be the nail in Trump’s coffin,” she told Jezebel on a Facebook Live chat.  “Pollsters far and wide better wise up soon. Latino voters only growing,” she tweeted on Election Day morning.  “It is the Latino vote that is going to be decisive, without a doubt,” she told Megyn Kelly the night before.  “#PoderLatino” she tweeted.  “Trump started this campaign denigrating Latinos - and it is Latinos who are going to end his campaign,” Mark-Viverito’s communication director tweeted, quoting her.  “Psst. It's #PuertoRico. #ByeByeTrump--The little island that could have a big impact on Trump's chances,” she tweeted last Saturday.  “Never ever EVER doubted this would be the case. Karma is rearing its head. Latinos are taking the Trumpster DOWN!” she tweeted last Friday. Etc., etc.; we could do this all day, all the way through the last year.

 Melissa Mark-Viverito assumed that Hillary would win; her job was basically to do outreach among Puerto Ricans.  She however assigned herself the role of promoting “Latino Power” as the bloc that would put Hillary over the top.  So which was her real goal—electing Hillary Clinton, or establishing herself as a power broker in command of an essential demographic segment? 

 For decades (literally) we have been hearing about the coming wave of Latino voters that would be the deciding factor in American politics.  Yet every four years the Latino share of the electorate runs between 9 and 11 percent.  It is creeping up, but at the same time, the Latino vote is becoming less and less monolithic.  The horrible takeaway this year (at least for Melissa Mark-Viverito) is that Latino support for Trump was two points higher than its support for Romney was in 2012, and the Latino vote for Clinton was seven points lower than it was for Obama four years ago.

 So could it be that increasing Latino turnout actually hurt Hillary? 

 Probably not in an arithmetical sense.  But the funny thing about ethnopolitics is that it cuts two ways.  Hammering on the Latino question the way she did, Melissa Mark-Viverito necessarily drove a wedge between the black/Latino constituency that is ever more essential to Democratic electoral victory.  Who’s to say that the apparent decline in black turnout this year wasn’t partially affected by the Clinton campaign’s appeal to Latinos as the new core of the Democratic Party, and the strong rhetoric of prominent surrogates such as MMV?

 Anyway, Hillary lost.  Melissa Mark-Viverito will not have a role in the Clinton Administration.  She is now just a lame duck city councilmember who was unable to deliver the vaunted Latino vote in Florida, despite her continual banging on that one note.

 While we are on the subject of Melissa Mark-Viverito’s screw-ups, let’s also take note of her silence on the arrest of Assemblymember Diana Richardson for beating her 12-year old son with a broomstick.

 Remember that it was very recently that the Speaker unveiled a new campaign against “domestic violence in sports,” whatever that means.  #NotAFan shows MMV and a bunch of local sports stars saying that they are “not fans” of domestic violence.  Ok, fine…a good cause.  So when a Brooklyn politician is arrested for DV/child abuse you would think that would fall under the Speaker’s rubric. 

 But apparently not!  She didn’t say a word about it…nothing.  And this is just a month after Zymere Perkins, another little boy, was beaten to death with a broomstick, apparently by his mother and her boyfriend, in some conjunction.

 So Diana Richardson’s alleged crime (note that her son, who is apparently a mild-mannered child and rather small, walked himself to the precinct and reported his mother) doesn’t matter to the Speaker.  No—the Speaker’s anti-DV campaign is only concerned with violence committed by athletes, not legislators. 

 Melissa Mark-Viverito has a very easy relationship with the local press, and hasn’t taken a lot of heat.  She has run a pretty smooth PR system heretofore.  But between her ethnosupremacy and her weird domestic violence campaign, one has to wonder if her PR machine is starting to show signs of strain.