This is America, after all, and given the probability that each one of us has been duped by the unscrupulous from time to time, I’ve spent most of my adult life pondering an existential question.
Do we blame the grifter, or the guileless? Perhaps the best answer is “both.”
In my city, which I typically render as Nawbany because it sounds a bit more Mississippian than Hoosier, the political party identifying itself as “democratic” has managed to hold onto power even as outlying areas from here to Bloomington have turned redder than Boss Hogg’s face.
As such, a visiting space alien might surmise that Nawbany would be a bastion of enlightenment, a liberal paradise, or an island of leftism. Disappointment would soon follow. The upper echelons of the “democratic” party here prefer efficiency in the form of an old-school political patronage system that relies on apolitical donors seeking contractual enrichment. Social justice? It crawls off to die on the soon-to-be-Disneyfied right bank of the Ohio.
At the behest of the party chairman Adam Dickey, who styles himself not unlike Wile E. Coyote (Genius), Mayor Jeff Gahan consistently postures left of center, but governs far to the right. That’s because Nawbany remains home to a great many Strom Thurmond-era Dixiecrats, who will vote in favor of Gahan’s anodyne reign for so long as he does nothing to agitate about hot button liberal issues.
Gahan and Squire Adam have no intention of doing so, because they understand that the votes they need reside in these Dixiecratic quadrants. But what of the many local “democrats” whose social media presence identities them as liberal or progressive? In general terms, their credentials do not activate locally, and apply only to state and national politics.
To begin with, there aren’t enough of them. Secondarily, most have gleefully swallowed the bait and accepted the local party leadership’s oft-repeated position that after Gahan, the deluge. Floyd County Republicans are characterized like the Mongol hordes, ready to sweep into Nawbany and pillage. No matter what offense against taste and decency is committed by the Gahanian clique, it would be somehow worse if the GOP took charge.
And so we founder.
Consequently, and you may have heard this one before in national terms, local liberals and progressives have placed their belief systems in escrow. They’ve acquiesced in the erection and maintenance of a crass political patronage machine that cannot by its very nature attempt any great social reform — or even mention one — without suffering electrocution on the third rail.
Recall, then, the grifters, and the duped. Progressives in Nawbany fall into the latter category. Their votes are reliable, they receive nothing in return, and still they grovel.
This brings us to the latest kerfuffle, with Gahan again offering municipal secessionist sentiment v.v. the city’s complete detachment from county influence, this time via the police department.
From my last diary:
We already knew that municipal governance in New Albany during our era of Gahanism involves incessant daily Orwellian brinksmanship with the “enemy” (Republican-dominated county government), with all the commensurate tall tales and propaganda. Those are a given, and almost numbingly routine at this point, but if you’re wondering about the ace in the hole behind this latest police headquarters posturing, it’s the $16.9 million in federal COVID recovery money awarded the city.
A Twitter reader expressed amazement; with all the pressing needs our community faces, why build a new police headquarters for millions and not renegotiate co-habitation for far less?
It’s because police empowerment via bricks and mortar allows Gahan to be seen as tough on crime; rewards his design, engineering and contracting donors; and reinforces the Alamo mindset of municipal Democrats.
In short, it’s peak Gahanism.
During the coming days, take a look around town and see what becomes of the leftists, liberals and progressives who took to Facebook last summer to demand the defunding of the police. If it were warmer weather, I’d advise you to watch the sidewalks, where they ride their bicycles owing to a mayor who has done nothing on the multi-modal transportation front, either.
You’ll find them saying and doing nothing, apart from sheepishly agreeing that yes, we must use pandemic recovery money to provide a luxurious new police headquarters, which might even be built on the vacant spaces where their “democratic” club dedicated to the end of public housing and the purging of the homeless has demolished living spaces to enable (shall we say) more lucrative ends.
And, to conclude, if you’re wondering why I’ve broken my silence to comment on this sliminess, I’m far more annoyed with the duped than the grifters.
Fish gotta swim, and con men gotta swindle, but it doesn’t mean that those with presumed principles need always abandon their precepts to facilitate the self-perpetuation of a soulless coterie.
Boss Hogg was fine. At least he didn’t pretend.