Tuesday, May 9, 2017

POLITICS. PARTY, POWER, PERCEPTION PRAGMATISM AND PATRONAGE

THE RIGHT SIDE
BY BUDD SCHROEDER
MAY 10, 2017

POLITICS. PARTY, POWER, PERCEPTION PRAGMATISM AND PATRONAGE

The headline presents the major prescription for the present state of politics. In this definition the words principles and performance are not present. The point being that the way government is being run the focus is away from people and centered on what is best for the political party.
It would appear that the political pundits and party participants make their decisions not for the benefit of the people, but on ways to get the people to vote for the party. Even the discussions on the repeal of Obamacare laced with the commentary on how this will affect the balance of power in next year's elections and whether it could mean that the Republicans lose seats in the Congress.
From Charles Schumer's discussions on the subject, that is a major concern regarding his perspective on the Senate strategy. Schumer desperately wants to be the Majority Leader. More power! Enough said!
In politics, perception IS reality. If the public can be convinced that the press releases are accurate (even if they are not) that serves the politician's purpose and that is where the term “fake news” comes in. It doesn't matter if the news is biased or even a half truth. If the people believe it, the news release has done its job for the party or the individual.
Truth can actually be relative. A change of a situation caused by external conditions or forces can make yesterday's truth no longer accurate. Does that make the former statement a lie? That depends of the perception of the person reporting or believing it.
An inaccuracy someone stated decades ago can be brought up in a recent report and depending on how the spin doctor reporter describes it The old quote can be a reason for a negative slant to denigrate the one who said it.
This has been a common method of describing some of the key appointments to the Trump cabinet. Also, the reporters, usually in the electronic media, when interviewing a political person, will start a question with something like “people are saying.....” and how do you respond to that? Actually, nobody but the interviewer it thinking that, but it gives him a bit of distance from the question.
With the party calling the shots in many political debates or interviews, the focus can shift to the philosophies and stances of the parties. The messages given can be thinly veiled to convince the viewer that it is in their best interests to vote for that party's ticket in the next election. If the listeners are convinced that it is in their best interests to vote for the party, the interview was a success.
Realizing that party politics are the prime objective for most candidates and elected officials, the most important consideration is to keep the party strong, or to increase its strength. The plasma in the life blood of a party is patronage. Those that has, gets.
For example, in Erie County and many others there are patronage pits where the faithful to the party get good jobs and perks. The Eric County water authority is a good example. It can take members of the party faithful and give them a good, well paying job. They don't have to be able to fix broken pipe lines to get on the payroll.
Practically every elected official has staff members and can be ''encouraged” to place a party favorite in a position. Usually, the chosen person has been helpful during a campaign. Some are placed in those positions because they are competent and have talent.
One of the worst conditions in politics is the selection of Supreme Court Justices. That is 100 percent political. On the higher level, they are appointments. On the local level they are pretty much selected by the County Chairmen.
Selection is done by party delegates who vote in a Judicial Convention. The delegates are party members with a slate picked by the chairman. Others can run for a seat as a delegate, and can, if lucky or works hard, win a seat. However, the chairmen have a big success in getting their people elected.
Then, comes the fun part. Those who wish to become judges become very friendly to all the party chairmen and there are stories of how money can legally change hands during this process.. Some involve donations to the party. Some involve promises. Politics as usual are evident.
Every candidate hopes for a cross endorsement. That means more than one party will give the endorsement and this saves a lot of money in a campaign.
The party chairmen do some trading of “your endorse my candidate and I will endorse yours.” Simply put, the public has no choice in who gets on the ballot. If there are four openings in the Supreme Court there are only four candidates. None were selected by petition as is done in the lower courts. The voting is simple. All will get elected.
There Is little to no hope that this method will change. Judges are the people who rule on whether laws are constitutional. The parties like to stay in power. They will do everything they can to protect their turf, be it by manipulation, media control or gerrymandering. More grist for this columnist's mill. Stay cool and stay tuned in.
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