Monday, October 23, 2017


Budd is a past NRA Director for NY Also past chair of

OCTOBER 25 2017


            The annual election for local offices is near and the political pundits are predicting a record low turnout.  We hope they are wrong, but with the access to polls and the general attitude of the electorate, this could be accurate.
            Only three candidates are running countywide and it would seem that the populace is yawning and saying, “So what?”  There is little activity for the races involving the County Legislature and, of course, the town races are confined.  TV spots are expensive and there is not much activity, even for the “big” contests.
            That is one of the big problems with American politics.  Like the cynics, and even the not-so-cynical ,there is the realization that it is all about power and money.  As the frequent reminder, the ideal candidate has name recognition, ability to raise money, and a base from which to work.
            The base can be union support, organizations, and yes, the political party itself.  The favored few get the nod.  Party leaders hate primaries and losing them is embarrassing and often times, expensive.  In many of the gerrymandered districts, the race is determined in the primary election.  The City of Buffalo is an excellent example of this statement.
            A relatively few people made this decision and, of course, saved the mayor
multi -thousands of dollars by not having to spend a dime to be reelected.  The power of the party won by getting the vote out for their candidate!  This is a shameful example of how the apathy of the citizens is a determining factor in the selection of people who make the decisions that affect the whole community.
            It is a great example of “minority rule” with the consent of the apathetic majority.  We have the greatest government in the world and it is supposed to be “by the people, for the people, and of the people.”  Great words, but in all practicality, there are too many dumb people in the electorate to make it so!
            The non-voting block could have an award called “Moron of the Year” for the person with the worst non- voting record.  We have heard the dumbest of reasons for not voting.  “My vote doesn’t count, so why bother?” is often heard.  However several offices have been decided by one vote and more by a mere handful of votes.  Each vote is very important.
            Another excuse is “What’s the difference?  All the politicians are the same.”  This one might have some credence, especially in Albany where in the Senate there seems to be coziness between the governor and the Republicans.  This was shown in 2013 with the Republican sell out by passing the SAFE Act.  Hopefully, next year the deadbutts who stayed home last year will benefit from their mistakes and turn out next year to rectify their mistakes.
            In politics perception IS reality.  As Lincoln is quoted; “You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”  This may be true, but if the politicians can fool enough of the people at election time, they obtain or retain the office.
            Politics is a business and an art.  Like any business it involves money and effort.  Politicians have to raise money to run for office and that in itself creates some problems.  There are problems with this system.  One is that the successful politicians who can raise large amounts of money get to keep it with few restrictions.  The money is kept even when they leave office and can be used to enhance their power if they become lobbyists or “political consultants.”
            They also can use the donations in their account for legal fees if they are charged with corruption.  The scandal with Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos brought that to the attention of the media.  However, it is unlikely that the legislature will be anxious to make changes to the train that pulls the load of gravy.
            A bill that would force the politicians to return any surplus in the war chest after leaving offices to the donors, to the political party or to a charity would probably never leave the committee.  Of course, if a candidate lost, he might want to have the slush fund for another try at the next election.  That would be reasonable.
            But, for the most part, the funds are spent without any consideration for the donors unless the funds came from the special interests and are used for lobbying purposes. They can still receive benefits. We don’t expect to see much action for any proposals like this for changing the status quo in a system that relies so much on funding.  With few exceptions, money not only talks, it screams.
            To make an election fair, perhaps there should be a cap on how much money can be spent in an election and base it on the number of people in the election district.  A senate candidate would need more money to reach the people in that district than an assemblyman would need because there are fewer people in an assembly district.  A fixed amount for the number of voters would probably be equitable.
            This would probably not be considered constitutional because contributions to political candidates are considered to be part of free speech, but there is no law against having agreements to do so.  Since pragmatism is a huge part of elections that won’t happen either.  Therefore, since the status quo works so well for the parties and incumbents, don’t expect any activity to change it.
            The dismal facts and experience tells us that we should not expect any real changes in our political system.  The politicians will continue to raise as much money as the traffic will bear.  The consultants, advertising agencies, and media will continue to receive most of the money and what is left over will be used for the benefit of the politicians who raised it.  What was, will be.  That is basic politics.       
            The way go get proper and useful changes is to inspire the citizens to actually get involved and vote for the best candidates rather than the establishment favorites.  The citizens in New York have this option.  Having the intelligence and will to make the changes is not traditional for the large majority of non-voting citizens.  What a pity!

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