"Transformational politics is the work we do today to ensure that the deal we can get on gun control or immigration reform in a year—or five years, or twenty years—will be better than the deal we can get today. Transformational politics requires us to challenge the way people think about issues, opening their minds to better possibilities."
These were the words then New York State Senator Eric Schneiderman wrote in a Nation article in 2008. He’s now running for state attorney general.
Over the years, Schneiderman’s commitment to transformational politics and progressive values have been tested, and he has proven that he is a steadfast champion of causes because they are right, not because they are popular or politically expedient.
Schneiderman is a leader on progressive justice issues in the state and also on a national level. He has a lifelong record of fighting for social justice, economic fairness and women’s rights, and an abiding commitment to a cleaner and more ethical government.
In working with Schneiderman over the years, I’ve come to respect his tireless dedication to improving the conditions of all New Yorkers’ lives. We’ve had intense discussions about progressive politics, and he always shares his hopes as well as deep concerns—whether it’s a failure by progressives to challenge and change the prevailing misinformed economic debate, or his anger over corruption in Albany. He’s also well-versed on national issues and understands the role New York plays in the national landscape—one it has played for decades—as a laboratory for democracy.
That was certainly the case with the overhaul of the draconian Rockefeller-era drug laws—one of the most critical issues New York has faced in recent decades. Schneiderman was the prime sponsor and a key leader in passing this historic legislation. It repealed harsh mandatory minimum sentences—which disproportionately affect African-Americans and Latinos—with no judicial discretion for the sale or possession of relatively small amounts of drugs.
In contrast, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice—one of Schneiderman’s opponents in the Democratic primary—claims she was a strong supporter of the repeal but actually wrote a letter to her Republican Senator opposing it as "ill-conceived." She particularly took issue with giving judges the authority to place people in drug treatment programs rather than prison.