September 12, 2007
Business As Usual
I don't take politics as seriously as most people I know. On a national level, I long ago concluded that all politicians are crooked weasels who don't deserve to be in office. It is the essence of our two-party system.
In a real democracy, anyone who wanted to could run for an elected position. It would be theoretically possible for the president's race to finish in a tie between 180 million people, all of whom received one vote – from themselves. To guard against a fringe group seizing power, Congress in its infinite wisdom adopted the two-party system. What this really means is the Democrats and Republicans looked at each other and said, "You pick a pig, we'll pick a pig and may the best pig win." Either "choice" will be in the hands of the big money syndicate that really rules our country (and the earth), so it's a win-win situation all around.
The difference in the parties centers on WHO gets the money. When Lyndon Johnson was president he funneled billions of dollars into the inner cities, ostensibly to rebuild our ghettos. Of course, almost all the money was stolen before it got to where it was supposed to go. That's the way the Dems do it: spend a fortune on huge projects for the "public good", then divvy up all the contracts to the political insiders and union bosses.
The national Republicans are more direct: since they are in the pocket of the big oil companies, the military Industrial complex, and the world's major polluters, they simply and openly pass legislation to make those companies richer and richer.
Either way, the middle class taxpayer pays the tab. It's the Royal Screwing, pure and simple.
Locally, the parties are more difficult to define. I've always thought we shouldn't have Democrats or Republicans in local races. We should have "The Whaler Party" and "The Windmill Party" like they do in Sag Harbor Village. Put another way, there is no correlation between Skip Heaney or Bill Gardner and President Bush. And Hillary and Ted Kennedy are about as far removed from the local Dems as they can get. In fact, on Clinton's frequent fundraising forays, she doesn't even bother to pose for a snapshot with the local pols up for election. She couldn't care less. She is here for the money.
Here in East Hampton the local Dems don't like me much. They tell people behind my back what is written in The Independent about them is not true. "That's The Independent," one official told a local guy who happened to be a friend of mine. "You can't believe what you read."
In truth that politician is full of shit, and he knows it. They all know when we do an exposé it's true, and if it wasn't they wouldn't hesitate to sue us.
That's not to say the Republicans are overly fond of me. When I first took over the paper, two prominent local Republicans called Jerry Della Femina, the majority owner of this paper and a staunch Republican, asking him to fire me. It was a couple weeks before the election, and they were unhappy because I didn't buy into a smear campaign they overtly launched.
Della Femina tells the story: he was taking a wiz at McDonald's on Manorville Road when someone barged into the bathroom, insisting he fire me. Jerry had to zipper up midstream and race down to the gas station to resume his business. "The guy told me I was the voice of reason," Jerry told me. "The way I figured it, anyone who thinks I am the voice of reason must be crazy."
Like petulant children, those immersed in the local political scene alternately pout, connive, sulk, smear, whisper, smirk and plot. Lies flow like beer from a tap.
They've never figured out that their tiny little world is so inbred that it has deformed its inhabitants like the offspring of cousins who continue to breed inside the forbidden circle.
There is one similarity between national politicians and local politicians: they all claim their motivation is the public good. They espouse the same themes in every little town and city across our country. The mantras are always the same: affordable housing, making the streets safe, providing a healthy environment for our children, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah and MOST IMPORTANT relieving the taxpayer's burden. That last one is the universal theme, the promise of every politician, local or national. It is also the Big Lie, the promise that never has and never will be kept.
So as the local election nears, be aware of those who peddle the golden nectar, the magic pill that will ease your tax burden and provide relief to the ravishing expenses of trying to raise a family here on a middle class salary.
A lot of these clowns are in it for themselves, folks, bet on it.
The goal of The Independent is to expose the greed. That scares them. Because frankly, in this business-as-usual enclave known as the Hamptons, the other newspapers really don't want to go there, to look behind the empty promises with a goal of revealing the real motivation that fuels a politician's decision.
Here is a journalism truism: the deeper you look into the closets, the more grime you discover.
It's time for a good cleanup around here.