As a native of Texas, I sometimes look back on the political atmosphere that defined my childhood growing up in Rep. Tom Delay's district, compared to the political atmosphere that defines my life today as a proud Manhattanite, and can't help but laugh. It has been quite a journey for me, going from wide-eyed NYU student who presumed that there were some political truisms, like that everyone -- and I do mean EVERYONE -- supports the death penalty, to learning that there are states that don't have it.
Like the one I live in now.
The Texan in me still gets a kick out of riling up my more liberal friends every now and then. But fundamentally I feel about New York's politics, just the way I do about New York's restaurants and Broadway: there is NO other place as vibrant, exciting, diverse, kooky or fun. That's why I love living here.
With that in mind, I put together a brief list of some of the characteristics that I think are hallmarks of politics in the Big Apple (at least for me):
Top Ten Signs Your Party Label is: New Yorker
10. When someone asks you to define "conservative" you say the Upper East Side.
9. When someone at a dinner party asks, "Whom are you supporting in an upcoming election?" you know that what they really mean is "Which Democrat are you supporting in the primary?"
8. When someone asks if you think "Kennedy" will ever run for office someday, you reply "Which one?"
7. In recent months when dinner party chatter turned towards the competition for Sen. Clinton's seat you gave up discussing various candidates by their first names since most of them were named some variation of "Carolyn" (Reps. Maloney and McCarthy) or "Caroline" Kennedy.
6. You're not exactly sure what Mark Green does, or even who he is really, but you know he is an elected official...or something... or is running for something or used to be elected to something. Well -- you recognize his name and know it has to do with politics (or something).
5. You don't describe Rudy Giuliani as a "liberal," Republican or otherwise.
4. You can't name a single accomplishment by Mayor Bloomberg except the creation of 311. But you also happen to think it's one of the most important things ever done by a New York elected official. EVER.
3. You don't consider Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Alec Baldwin or Cynthia Nixon members of the "Hollywood liberal elite" but instead think of them as your local neighborhood activists.
2. You think that there are "serious" political differences that divide candidates running for office in New York City. And those differences are: Uptown versus Downtown; Manhattan versus every other borough; and Michael Moore liberalism versus Clinton centrism.
1. At this very moment you are seriously beginning to think that the political leaders in New York might actually be more incompetent, ineffectual and corrupt than the stooges in Illinois (and that's without even counting Eliot Spitzer).
(Please feel free to suggest your own additions to the list in the Comments section below.)