The New York State Young Democrats May Be Kind of Tone-Deaf


For the past four weeks, we’ve been bringing you news of the Occupy Wall Street protests roiling Lower Manhattan, as the self-identified 99 percent transform their tales of struggle and deprivation into demands for systemic change.

Maybe it’s just because we have those voices fresh in our ears, but something about today’s press release from the New York State Young Democrats sounded a jarring and discordant note:

We can see what they’re trying to do there — their guy, Obama, was elected with slogans about change. They want to keep him, and his change. So, sure, “keep the change.” But tone is a tricky thing. “Dear Americans, 17 percent of whom are unemployed or underemployed, keep the change!” Potentially awkward.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that the times that the Young Democrats haven’t noticed the tonal shift emanating from Zuccotti Park. NYSYD’s young party loyalists and the anarchist agitators who got Occupy Wall Street off the ground probably didn’t sit at the same lunch table in school. But even leaving aside the “Keep the Change” slogan — high-handed in the best of times, betraying a let-them-eat-cake obliviousness now — that still leaves us to deal with the Young Democrat’s unfortunate choice of venue.

The youngsters are gathering at Tammany Hall. Tammany Hall the events space named after the New York original, which for more than a century was synonymous with a deeply corrupt political machine the Democratic Party used to run this city.

Two-for-two, Young Democrats! Boss Tweed says “Keep the change!”

In fairness, this event was probably planned well before Occupy Wall Street put such a fine point on questions of change and how much we get to keep. Also, it sounds like a very nice event actually, “bestowing the first ever Downstate Young Democrats’ Change Awards on three honorees for specific accomplishment they have made for progressive causes: Staten Island Assemblyman Matthew Titone for his efforts to bring Marriage Equality to New York, Majora Carter for her work on eco-development in the Bronx and Comptroller John Liu for his exposure and unraveling of the CityTime scandal.”

Also, come on: These are not even fully mature Democrats. They are Young Democrats! Cut them some slack already.

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