A friend and I were watching CNN the other night. After fifteen minutes of the Headline News, she asked, “Is there any good news in the world?”
Yes. But it’s harder and harder to find.
As I wrote in this space last July, “It can be difficult, in these times, to maintain a sense of hope–as war, corruption, lies and injustices large and small loom all around,and outrage threatens to overwhelm us. But in these past months, as millions of us slug away, agitate, organize and mobilize, there have been some hard-fought victories to celebrate.”
One sweet victory took place last week in Albany, New York when a young activist attorney named David Soares rocked the county (and the state) with his stunning landslide victory in the Democratic Primary for District Attorney. A nominee of the Working Families Party, his race was a referendum on the draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws, and his victory was a magnificent accomplishment for the urban-suburban, black-white, gay-straight, grassroots community-labor campaign led by Albany WFP chair Karen Scharff.
Soares brought a struggling Democratic machine to its knees–defeating incumbent Albany County District Attorney Paul Clyne, one of the strongest defenders of the Rockefeller Drug Laws. (Final tally was 62 percent for Soares compared to just 38 percent for the incumbent, with record turnout of more than 22,000.)
Soares, wrote the Albany Times Union, “had the nerve to stand up to the entire political establishment in Albany, fight for what’s right–and win…Support for his stance on repeal of the strict Rockefeller Drug Laws and his platform of inclusion was seen in the incumbent’s staggering across-the-board loss.”
Soares’ victory is a clear sign of popular support for reforming antiquated and cruelly ineffective drug laws. “This is the single most important development in more than a decade of trying to reform the Rockefeller Drug Laws,” according to the Drug Policy Alliance Network, which supported Soares’ candidacy. “It’s also the first time in contemporary American history that voters have thrown a politician out of office because he’s a drug war zealot.”