Albany style democracy is no democracy at all

No matter how the state Senate debacle turns out, one thing is for sure: the curtain has been lifted and what we are seeing is truly disgusting. The system is corrupted and it doesn’t work. New York has become a laughing stock and there must be a sinking feeling in every single Senator’s gut that the game is up and they have been caught. They’ve got to be thinking that the title “senator” on their tombstones will no longer be greeted with awe, but with disdain.

The political cancer that has consumed government has metastasized. Think about the words “representative government.” The word “representative” has two important components: “re” and “present.” Yet it turns out that the last thing that the Democrats or Republicans really re-present is our interests. Instead, they represent their own interests. They represent their personal aspirations for political power. Their primary purpose in life is to fill their individual cups.

Yes, the curtain has been lifted and what is on stage is ugly. Of course, there are some very good senators. Take the senator from the East Side of Manhattan, Liz Krueger. She has always favored reform and represented the interests of the little people. When the Democrats were in the minority, she always said that when they took over, things would be different. I am quite sure that at the time she and others like her meant every word of what they were saying. But as soon as the Democrats took the majority, the primal struggle for power commenced. They elected Malcolm Smith as their leader. He just wasn’t up to it. Instead of there being a domineering Republican in charge, there was now a domineering Democrat. He was domineering but weak. Think about it.

Those few senators like Liz Krueger who had fought for reform were shunted aside and the same old, same old, took over. Some reforms were passed, but the effort was pathetic, considering the scope of the problem. When they were in power, the Republicans ruled with an iron fist, taking no prisoners. They consigned the Democrats to minority hell, taking everything that wasn’t nailed down for themselves and assigning the pathetic leavings to the hapless Democrats, who took them like a cur on the street would snap up scraps.

But when it finally happened — when the Republicans lost despite their gerrymandered districts and near-bribery with all their pork-filled member items — they didn’t go quietly into that good night. Instead, they fought a rear guard guerrilla action, trying to pick off two of the worst of the so-called Democratic bunch, an accused girlfriend slasher and an accused election fraudster. These were men who those very same Republicans had attacked as worthless! Now they were attempting to pull them over the line. The stink rose to the heavens.

While all of this was taking place, the people were hurting. The school districts, the county governments and the not-for-profit sector, all doing such important work, were left without the necessary cash to go forward. Worse, they didn’t even know how much they would be getting. Try budgeting under those conditions. If you want to talk about where representative government failed at its worst, you don’t have to look any farther.

The whole sorry situation would be laughable except for the fact that there is so much at stake. What should be the people’s business has become the politicians’ business. To put it mildly, they don’t seem to care about us. They only care about themselves. They don’t care that New York has become the target of every comedian. They don’t care that the school districts are flying blindfolded. They don’t care that state government has come to a standstill. The only thing that has been achieved here is that we have gotten a momentary look inside the sewer. We have seen the denizens of the deep at war and it isn’t pretty. The question now is what do we do about it?

What do we tell the kids who are having mock elections in their schools? Do we tell them that their elected representatives are not worth emulating? That democracy is a fraud and just a cover for a few venal men and women? This is the time for true reform. The division of spoils should include the people.

Originally Published in the Legislative Gazette, 6/26/09

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One Comment on “Albany style democracy is no democracy at all”

  1. Bill Says:

    Who would have thought that we would look back fondly on the days of Joe Bruno!

    Listened to your comment on WCBS, it is sad that most of these clowns will get re-elected. I’m sure all will try to say “Not me!” when people try to blame them for this mess. But what about the guy from Mamaroneck, er, The Bronx… our esteemed president of the circus? Will the voters be smart enough to toss him out?


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