On the Rising Tide: Radio Essay for September 17, 2011

A year divisible by four is usually a leap year but is always a Presidential election year. We find ourselves on the cusp of both. It won’t actually be 2012 for a few more months but you could hardly tell given all the rhetoric and the posturing. We are knee deep in the Presidential season now and we cannot pull back from the edge even if we wanted to do so. Correct me if I am wrong but no matter on what side of the political divide you may fall, I bet you cannot wait for November 2012 to come. I do not normally wish away time but this beauty contest is going to go down to the wire and not much is likely to happen in the intervening months to make much of a difference to the average American citizen when it comes to the great economic calamity we face. I believe the Presidential decision in November 2012 will be between a semi-conservative and ultra-liberal. All things considered a pretty clear choice. And given events of recent days, I learn towards the conservative side prevailing.

If you were born in the year 1923, you would be 88 years old. Imagine what you would have experienced: the Roaring 20’s and the boring 50’s; Charles Lindberg in the Spirit of St. Louis and Neil Armstrong at Tranquility Base; the Stock Crash of 1929 and the Stock Crash of 2008; the Dustbowl and the Super Bowl; fascism and feminism; defense war bonds and Gary US Bonds; Jackie Robinson and Mrs. Robinson; Rosa Parks and Rosie O’Donnell; Osama in the dog house and Obama in the White House. There are a lot of unforeseen events that changed our society. But one thing that has not been seen since 1923 is a Republican Representative in what is now the Ninth Congressional District of New York.

Bob Turner is not a household name and may never become one. He is the newest Republican to enter Congress after the Awakening of 2010. If New York hacks have their way, his district will be gerrymandered out of existence before the next election but I think it will not matter.

My children and I used to play a game on the beach we called “castling.” We would build elegant sand castles along the ocean’s edge and attempt to forestall the inevitable rise of the tide with elaborate berms of sand and water diverting channels and even the use of the occasional prone body. The tide always won. And it will continue to win. Mr. Turner’s victory is a harbinger of discontent in the land. Mr. Turner is a retired businessman not a career politician.

Is anybody listening? Special elections are a unique breed of election. They disrupt the natural order of things. Open seats elections are sought after since the power of incumbency is neutralized. Nothing is at stake for a career politician challenger since they do not have to relinquish any seat they may hold. But special elections are often “come-as-you-are” affairs since they are unplanned and provide a chance for opportunistic wannabees. They have the ability to provide a snapshot of the body politic. It does not allow for the machine to fully get into gear. Funding is off cycle. They provide a rare glimpse into “pure” politics.

If we have learned one thing from the New York ninth it is this: stand by for heavy rolls. The electorate is mad-as-hell –and-won’t-take-it-anymore. “Take what,” you say? Business as usual. No one is immune from the wrath of the electorate. The true electorate are the people who vote, by the way. They are not the people who get polled by the New York Times or CNN. They are the people who work and pay taxes and wonder how they are going to meet next month’s bills in the face of declining income, impending unemployment, diminishing savings, and all sorts of uncertainties that the Political Class in Washington have not a clue about. Employment security for incumbent Congressmen is being called into question.

If I have to handicap the election 14 months out, the edge goes to the Republicans, especially those new ones who were elected within this decade. For anyone in their 10th term or beyond, in either party, it is time to justify ones existence. A wave of new citizen legislators is upon us. A careers worth of experience in politics is no longer an asset. It is a liability. Look for “career politicians” to humanize themselves and tell you that they feel your pain.
They don’t. It is your pain. Only someone who has walked a mile in your shoes can understand that. If you have been employed by Uncle Sam in Congress for 20 years, you do not qualify.

Press on.

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