Political Opportunists and the Future of American Democracy

The latest issue of The Nation includes an article about Wisconsin governor Scott Walker.  I have despised him since 2011, when he smugly broke the power of public unions in his state.  The statements he made about school teachers being spoiled and indulged angered me so much I sent money to their union to fight his efforts (alas, unsuccessfully- but now I know why).   Walker has no political principles but his promoting his own career.   He takes money from the wealthy because it is easier to solicit their money than try to listen and appeal to many ordinary citizens who struggle to pay their bills, save some money, and educate their children decently.   He is not alone – Andrew Cuomo is very similar.   Yes, they are from different political parties, but party labels are irrelevant to such politicians;  they believe in nothing but themselves.    They are wily in being able to figure out exactly where they can tinker with the levers of democratic government so that they can subvert and pervert the system.  Cuomo has done that already – he first stripped the State Education Department of its leadership, then hired outside contractors (aka campaign donors) to take over curriculum  and test development (which used to be done by people actually teaching in the classrooms).  Not only did he reward his big contributors, but by doing this he reduced the influence of one of the biggest unions in the state, NYSUT.   In his efforts to reduce the costs of government at the state and local levels, he forced cities and towns to reduce their police and fire departments – thus also cutting the power of other unions.    Yet, like Scott Walker, he also has the nerve to claim he’s doing this to the benefit of ordinary citizens!  How does larger class sizes, demoralized teachers, fewer police and fire fighters make life safer and better for regular people?

The troubling aspect is that many Americans seem to accept this type of politics as the new normal.   Are we so apathetic, oblivious, or jaded that we are willing to allow such political monsters to manipulate the democratic system in their favor?

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