BY PUBLISHER EMERITUS ARMAND MIELE
In local elections, the person in office gets re-elected 95% of the time. Republican, Democrat, no matter, this happens because the party in control buys votes, with pork or promises.
The incumbent is not concerned about his constituents, but about remaining in control. And in order to remain in control, he has to listen to the party, even if it requires a major shift in philosophy or a broken campaign promise. These shifts are often due to gerrymandering, when the incumbent’s district is split or changed by re-districting. The incumbent knows he can count on his diehard party constituents to vote him back in, as long as he does what the party demands, whether that means taking his policies right, left, or center. He gives favors to those who can ensure his place in the party.
In many districts where one party outnumbers others, the independent voters effectively have no choice. The bloc vote in these districts has created party bosses who become like little dictators. The bosses control their districts for the benefit of their party alone, and not for the people. The only time things might change is when the party in control is forced to have a primary, whether because the incumbent dies, is caught stealing, or unexpectedly defies the party line.
When the incumbent steps out of line, the party runs a primary against him. One of the most famous examples of this was when the Liberal Party turned against Mayor Ed Koch of New York City.
In Congress, Koch was supported by the then-powerful New York Liberal Party. He would vote for anything they told him to.
When Koch became Mayor of New York City, he saw things differently. He discovered that it was often in the best interests of the city to forego the demands of the Liberal Party.
I saw Koch being interviewed on television, where he was questioned on his shift away from the Liberal Party. Koch replied with his now-famous declaration that he had become a “liberal with sanity.” He said that in Congress, he voted for every mandated program. He never gave a second thought to where the government was going to get the money to support all the mandates. Now that he was the Mayor, he saw his mistake.
Koch was in office for eight years, and did a great job. He didn’t listen to the Liberal Party bosses. The Liberals then ran a primary against Koch and he lost to the party-controlled David Dinkins. Dinkins should have been embarrassed to run for office. He didn’t pay his income taxes. He lived in the projects to pay cheap rent. But the Liberal Party didn’t care who they backed. Their only concern was to get Mayor Koch out.
The new Mayor Dinkins was a mess, and he almost destroyed New York City. More people went on welfare, the murder rate rose, civil unrest took the streets. The Liberals found out what a mistake they made and did not support David Dinkins for a second term.
New York City was rescued by Rudolph Guliani, a Republican with Liberal support, who stood up to the anti-cop fanatics, the New York Civil Liberties Union, the New York Times, and the likes of Al Sharpton. The NYPD was finally allowed to do their job to clean up the city.
I must say that even Ed Koch hasn’t learned his lesson. He started out endorsing Republican Ed Turner’s presidential campaign last year, in support of Turner’s track record on Israel. Obama made one pro-Israel speech to the U.N., and Koch flipped to support the President’s re-election campaign. Koch now vouches for Obama, based on words alone! Shame on Ed Koch! He, of all people, should know better!
We the voters must get rid of political party bosses once and for all.
Term limits is one way, but the party in control will always fight term limits, of course.
Independent voters are the key. They control any vote. If they get organized, they can defeat any party line. New Yorkers, if you want to get rid of the bosses you must come out and vote your conscience as independent voters.
We should call a referendum against party primaries funded by our tax dollars, in which non-party members can’t vote. Why should we pay for a primary we can’t vote in? This is wrong. Any registered voter should be permitted to vote in a publically-funded primary. If the party doesn’t want the public to vote, let the party pay for it.
Open up the primary, so that politicians can campaign to the independent voters, not to the party. Only if the party becomes a source of support, and not fear, to our leaders, can they be expected to do their best for us.