Sunday, November 13, 2011

Base Politics

I worked at the polls Tuesday from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. It was almost as bad as a church meeting. I do it as my civic duty and as a representative of the Warren County New York Democratic Committee. I have done this for two years and am now the Democratic Town Chairperson. This happened to me once before, in 1972 in Minnesota. As the only one from my town who showed up at the county meeting, I became town chair. I make a few bucks working the polls.

There is a side benefit I had not expected. My anger is subsiding. While I still disagree with 98% of what conservatives believe and want, I realize that I can replace the anger with learning – who the actors are in town and in the county, how they see the world, and what their vision for our country is and how they came to see things that way.

This is akin to the antidote to low self-esteem; one needs to accomplish something to feel good about oneself. I am suggesting that the antidote to political anger is getting even more involved, even with opponents.  The old sayings have some truth: “Don’t get mad; get even.” “The best revenge is served cold.”

And of course: “All politics is local.” Unfortunately, local politics seems to be a lot about running for office to promote your business. In a very small town like this it is a lot about who has the most friends or at least who can call on the most people who owe you something cause you did something for them. This is generally good and positive, so that party labels and ideology don’t mean much locally. It’s both business and personal.

But at the county level, now we’re talking who gets big construction and trash pick up contracts, and who can give jobs to friends and relatives.  There are probably lots of perks I haven’t thought of. I’m pretty naive. “To the victors belong the spoils.” Now all county offices are held by Republicans. Lots of opportunities for mischief. Especially when the newspapers support them. Think I’ll read some Machiavelli, and talk to some locals about who is who and why and what they’re up to. That’s base.

Next Wednesday is our county Democratic Committee meeting. There will be lots of wailing about lost offices. Let’s see, how do we organize ourselves to get out of this box? (Sort of like a phone booth, but we don’t have those anymore.) Worst of all, we can’t pick a candidate for Congress until next June! Re-districting in New York won’t be complete til then. We don’t know what district we will be in. Maybe both parties will have to find candidates. One thing I know after 50 years of following such things: Everything that seems to be the case now will have changed in six months. That’s basic.

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