Op-ed by Carleton Cronin, West Hollywood, California
A recent article on Al Jazeera (what? You don’t follow Al Jazeera?) relates the results of two independent surveys (Princeton and Northwestern Universities) covering a 20 year period, show that money is indeed “the mother’s milk of politics”. As an example, “when 80% of the public asked for a change of some sort, they got their way 43% of the time.”
Wealthy lobbyists and individuals usually marginalized voters and public advocacy groups and saw their interests – and cash – outweigh the public’s desires every time. It’s official: We finally have the Congress we elected to do our business, moonlighting as lackeys for those who have only their self-interests to serve.
Big money. Big ideas: privatize every federal program, de-regulate all that is onerous.
An old pal, with whom I had been able to abide for a long time(he as well, I suppose) because of his extreme political views, lives in the land north of Sacramento where Rush Limbaugh is considered a prophet and his windy speculations are broadcast from every pickup truck’s radio.
A few years ago he invited me to a place where he spends quite a bit of time in the Spring and Summer. There, among the glory of the redwoods and the peace of those darkened groves, well-to-do, and some not so, sit around domino boards and live the life of the care-free mostly amongst same-thinking chaps of their own stripe.
On a late Spring afternoon, I sat down at a table on a deck overlooking the magnificent forest and sipped rare Kentucky whiskey with my old boss, my host there, and Mr. Charles Koch. He was rather pleasant for a billionaire, but had that imperial air which only the super-rich can employ. (Don’t screw with me. I’ll have your liver for breakfast!)
A prominent rule of the place is that no one speaks of business, nor, actually, of the outside world. Thus, no business is done there, nor are politics or other forbidden subjects raised. So, we talked about books, music and the whiskey which was making us such jolly good company.
Surely, I would have loved to have rung his bell and sounded him out on his hard-ass politics. Not to be. Moreover, there was an invincible shield around him, that manufactured by his incredible self-confidence. So close, but so far. The meeting only reinforced my be life that the Republican Party is doomed, specifically as it devours itself.
Looking locally, I find that there is little discussion in what’s left of the mainline news media regarding much more than how many dollars each candidate has managed to amass for any given office. Money seems to be the principal issue and news story. So, my natural curiosity requites me to ponder: What is a constituency these days?
Then, I recall the night that John D’Amico brought his umbrage to the City Council meeting and told that august body of their “elitism” and distance from the residents of the city. At my age, I cannot care about chronology, since it all runs together, but I do remember the ensuing campaign of Mr. D’Amico and his feat of landing a seat on our City Council.
Mr. D’Amico’s demeanor is that of a relatively shy man, not given much to public speaking. His first year in office had to be a tough one, learning the ropes and finding out how to deal with people who wished he was living in Peoria. Eventually, he emerged from under the influence – certainly he was heavily proctored by the long-serving – and his voice began to be heard.
Finding allies on that council has been difficult, I’m sure, but he has had a partner or two in certain singular efforts and we, the residents, began to recognize his approach to administering our city. Now, after a year as Mayor pro-tem, he will be elevated to the central seat on the dais.
The mayor usually has more sway that the other councilmen and we will be attentive to his less than elite approach to politics. We wish him a good and productive tenure.
(Oh, by the way, I no longer give so much as a dime to any political candidate. As a simple citizen, I believe such gifts to be a bad investment.)