Donald Trump suggests that the system is “rigged.” He should know — he’s been playing the system for years as giant real estate developers are known to do. Let’s stop for a moment and examine whether New York’s political system is rigged. It is, of course, and I can prove it.
Take, for example, the gerrymander that goes on when we draw the districts from which the legislators run. We all know that the majority party in each house draws the district lines to give themselves maximum advantage. They use complex computers to help them in this evil work which really does subvert democracy. They shove as many bodies as they can into one district so that the surrounding districts have a better chance of going their way. We send our kids to foreign countries to “fight for democracy” yet we rig elections right here at home. As my son often says to me, “That ain’t right.”
Then, too, the system is rigged in favor of those people who have the most money. Big corporations and well-heeled people invest millions to make things come out the way they want them too. It’s not surprising some of these people can invest hundreds of thousands of dollars or more to lobby the legislature. They know that the money they invest in campaigns will bring them a great return on their “investment” into controlling the way things go. That’s a pretty good investment — a lot better than your stock broker can get.
The rigging goes even further when we consider the fact that so few politicians in both houses ever lose their seats. Once the gerrymander and the money kick in, there is little or no chance that anyone will be defeated. Now they want a whopping pay raise when so many of them work so little. Not only that, they make a lot of money on the outside because of their legislative titles. We all know it and the time has come to put a stop to it by limiting outside income. Hey, they even do that in the United States Congress.
Voters know when they are being had, but they opt out because of sheer frustration. My students tell me that their parents often say, “They’re all crooks.” They may not be but they sure rig the system. That’s why, whenever New York City residents have had the opportunity to vote for term limits, they’ve done so overwhelmingly. If the rest of the state was ever given a chance to vote on term limits, they would, too, despite the fact most people like their own representatives. Now they want to saddle us with a constitutional convention that will be controlled by the same people who bring us the New York State Legislature. If people vote for that pig in a poke they ought to have their heads examined.
Politicians tend to speak with forked tongues and that’s a big problem. Take Governor Andrew Cuomo, who always insists that he wants to reform the system. Now he is surrounded by aides, including his so-called best friends, who are under investigation. He claims to be a Democrat but insiders have known for years that he is very comfortable with having Republicans in control of the state Senate. This year he knows he’ll face a primary if he continues to do that so there are signs that his duplicity in this area will have to be modified. What are you going to do when a guy says one thing and does another?
There is so much rigging in our state system that it will take more like Preet Bharara to put Humpty back together again. Not surprisingly, the big fish pols, including Hillary Clinton, seem disinclined to reappoint him as prosecutor. I am going to vote for Hillary Clinton as the lesser of two evils. The whole thing makes me queasy.