29 May 2006

Love/Hate & Relationships (CS)

I've done my best to hate Mike Bloomberg. He's a member of the Republican party and welcomed the GOP into our city with open arms, much to the dismay of the overwhelming majority of the city. He's had his hands in fund raising for the GOP and G.W. Bush. But lately... well... he's been making a lot of speeches kicking the GOP & White House's collective asses left and right and I've gotta respect him for that. He's nailed them on their lame brained opinions regarding immigration, gun control, and science (stem cell research, global warming, and evolution). Most recently, he's come out in support of same-sex marriage, saying the city will actually perform them if allowed to do so. So, despite his promotion of the luxury class in the city, despite his homogenization of certain parts of the city, despite even his lame support of the West Side stadium idea, I'm starting to come around on Mr. Bloomberg.

Mayor Mike actually reminds me of a handful of corporations that* have initiated certain policies that win me over even in the face of their seemingly maniacal business tactics. The best example is Starbucks. The coffee chain monster from hell threatens to pop-up on every block in the city. The homogenization is mind numbing and I can't stand their aesthetic or the culture they promote (Dave Matthews Band lifestyle... if that makes sense). And yet, they use fair-trade coffee, have campaigns to promote literacy and alleviate poverty, provide their employees with health care, and have even joined efforts with Ethos Water to bring clean, drinkable water to 3rd world nations in need. With all that going on, it makes it terribly hard to hate them. In fact, putting their hands in so many active and noble causes makes them downright appealing. They're not alone in this sort of image maintenance either. Wal-Mart, for all its sins, seems very serious about having its shopping centers become eco-friendly, energy renewable, and environmentally sustainable.

With these corporations the argument could be made that they support these initiatives purely as a means of promoting their own image. That in the end, even their philanthropy is concerned with the bottom-line of their business. And so I wonder, is that what Mayor Mike is doing by not only coming out against the GOP but actually endorsing the idea of same-sex marriage?

A cynical viewpoint of Bloomberg's support of same-sex marriage would be that it was simply a win-win situation for him politically. He gains weight and support from the left (which is where the largest portion of his electorate leans), but will never really have to act on his words because Governor Pataki (and the GOP) would never let it happen. However, as we learned through John Kerrey in 2004's Presidential election, one cannot easily take back their political rhetoric. Of course, Bloomberg need not worry about taking back anything if his aspirations never run further than Gracie Mansion.

In the end, though, I refuse to let political analysis diminish the important points that Bloomberg makes. And he states them well. I admire how he points out that, "The U.S. Constitution should be something that unites, rather than divides Americans." It's true. A constitutional amendment banning gay marriage is the equivalent to asserting that homosexuality is absolutely un-American (an assertion which, if you can't see as absolutely moronic immediately, then you too are probably moronic). Hopefully Bloomberg keeps kicking the White House's ass. Hopefully he keeps caring about the city in his own way. Hopefully he won't be inviting them back for another convention. Now if we could only get him to change his attitude on these bullshit luxury apartment complexes sprouting up everywhere and the diminishing of New York landmarks in the face of general Disneyfication.... But that's a rant for another time (I'm sure the mayor is breathing a sigh of relief).

*I refuse to use the perhaps more grammatically correct "corporations who" because I will not buy into the idea, long upheld by the US government but never understood nor endorsed by me, that a corporation is a person.


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