Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Meet Paul Newell: Power Concedes Nothing Without Demand

Have you heard of this man? Hopefully, you will. SG readers might know him through his witty comments, support of Barack Obama and his desire for unity of the Democratic party come November. But, he has big plans this fall. That is to unseat one of the most powerful men in Albany, Sheldon Silver, the Speaker of the House and one of "three men in a room."

Sheldon Silver is the Speaker of the House in Albany since 1994 and a thirty-two year incumbent whose district comprises much of lower Manhattan, notably the former World Trade Center site. He is one of the reasons New Yorkers complain that 'nothing' gets done in Albany. When a government runs this way progress is nearly impossible, it supports the establishment and the democratic caucus, not what the people want. New Jersey also runs this way through party bosses. Progressives have a nearly impossible time running in these state districts controlled by the few. Paul Newell wants to change that.

When Paul and I met he said to me, "listen yeah, Sheldon Silver is the Speaker and one of 'three men in a room,' but this guy is also an elected official who represents lower Manhattan." He has failed miserably in that role and it is Paul's quest to unseat him. See Paul here on youtube explaining why he wants to run for the Assembly. The Albany Project put it this way: We're literally talking about 6,000 votes or so affecting not only the lives of 19 million New Yorkers, but the very cause of reforming our state government as well.

I have known Paul for several years and know him to be a truly progressive, very bright, reform oriented democrat. He has fought for over a decade for progressive values. Whether working to elect progressive leaders, or bring needed services to children orphaned by AIDS, Paul has always believed in working together to achieve real change. He wants to make change for the better, for the people of lower Manhattan, health care for all, affordable housing and quality schools - for real, not as a campaign slogan. He knows this is a "Herculean task" ahead of him, but something worth the battle ahead. Go to his website and see what this campaign is about and of course donate. That is how we win until we have publicly financed elections.

This is what politics is about, not about backroom deals, but about people and democracy. Paul's task ahead is certainly a David versus Goliath endeavor, but it is not impossible, in fact it is likely once we set our sights on something worthy of our goals. It reminds me of the beautiful quote by Frederick Douglas:

"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation…want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters…. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."


la francaise said...

run, paul, run!

nice profile kidrad... the SG endorses!

Paul Newell said...

Thank you, KR, for this post, your advocacy and your friendship.

2008 is an exciting year. We have a real opportunity to bring genuine progressive reform to New York, New Jersey and America. The party machines that have dominated our metro area for decades are out of touch and vulnerable. This year we have a chance for the clear progressive majority in our region to take the reigns.

I warmly invite all SG readers to join our efforts. Please visit our site at and shoot me an email.

Of course, financial support is also greatly appreciated at our ActBlue page

Anonymous said...

Very cool, I am excited.