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New York Times Room for Debate

 

Parochial, Not Puritanical

June 08, 2011

By Kay S. Hymowitz

What the New York congressman’s sins could mean for his party.

Will the people of New York’s Ninth District give their disgraced Congressman, Anthony Wiener, the boot? On the face of it, it seems they will – and hard. The bizarrely shaped district, designed to facilitate the election of black leaders in an adjacent area, is largely white and ethnic: Italians, Irish, and Jews, not Upper West Side Jews mind you, but Orthodox and Russian immigrant Jews.

In fact, the Ninth seems to be among the last of 20th century ethnic enclaves in the outer boroughs. And as everyone knows, that crowd tends to be socially conservative, anti-abortion, anti-same sex marriage and, it would follow, more unforgiving of philanderers.

On closer inspection, however, a culture war-inspired ouster of the besieged Congressman seems unlikely. Yes, the district has trended more Republican in presidential races in the past decade, but that has more to do with 9/11 than with hot button social issues. The Irish of Breezy Point and the Rockaways like Weiner because of his support for the first responders; the Jews of Ocean Parkway are on his side because of his enthusiasm for Israel, which also explains why Chuck Schumer, no virtuecrat, retains a strong standing among his Orthodox constituents.

Remember also: white ethnics are no longer so predictably steeped in family values. A 2010 report from the National Marriage Project found a dramatic rise in single motherhood, cohabitation and divorce among the working class, which presumably would include many of Weiner’s constituents.

And then there’s this: for Weiner to lose, someone has to win. But in the Ninth District, as in New York City as a whole, interests are parochial -- and the Republican Party, weak as a kitten.

Original Source: http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2011/06/07/will-the-democrats-lose-anthony-weiners-seat/parochial-not-puritanical

 

 
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