We need to do better

Photo by Gage Skidmore

Getting elected to political office is all too often a matter of circumstances, luck and talent.

Take the elections of both Andrew Cuomo and Donald J. Trump. One of the things that really counts is who your opponent is. A lot of times, people who win do so because they don’t have a first rate person running against them. No matter what you thought of Hillary Clinton, it was clear that she just couldn’t get it right. Not entirely her fault — she and her advisers had a mean, angry, unprincipled liar as an opponent. Nobody knew what to do with the guy.

So, sometimes, candidates get lucky because the opposition just can’t find anyone who can compete. What’s more, there are times when a candidate is so cynical in his approach to our American democracy that those who are playing by the rules lose out because of their opponent’s cheating, cash, and propensity for playing dirty tricks.

This explains why Donald Trump is now the president, right? Making things even more interesting is the idea of money. You either have to have it or you have to make people think you have it. If you don’t have it, you have to basically sell access to those who do have it and want something and that, my friends, is critical to what’s wrong in our politics today. We all know it’s a big house of prostitution. It’s a supermarket. Enter Donald Trump who knows all about every part of it but he introduces something a little bit different; he’s a showman, a TV star, a schlock artist.

Some people love him and some people hate him but they do know him. If we look back at Ronald Reagan, we see another person who had much the same connection to the common man and woman. Think of it this way — this is a country where TV personalities are worshiped and idolized and then we turn around and wonder how they can be elected to public office. Who do you think watches TV all day long? Do you really believe people will vote for politicians when they can vote for their favorite TV personalities?

In the case of Andrew Cuomo, we see a different a different type of celebrity. No matter how much people rail against political dynasties, his last name has served him well. His father did it the hard way and was beloved. The son has lived off his father’s reputation for years. I do have to say that they are not the same man but as you know, that really doesn’t matter. We Americans are so lazy that any sniff of familiarity, including knowing people by their famous last names or from the TV, pays off politically. We have almost no idea about what people have done in the past because we are just too busy. Some people will say that we get what we deserve. I don’t actually agree with that but I do think that we have to work a lot harder, lest we become what Hillary Clinton once called “a basket of deplorables.”

So while Andrew’s personal popularity is quite respectable and while he has collected a ton of money the old fashioned way, the key question is whether anyone will want to take him on. There are some very good people out there like the Mayor of Syracuse, Stephanie Miner. Now there’s a lady with guts.

Like Trump, Andrew is not a particularly nice man. A lot of people are scared of him. Now New Yorkers are saying that they would like him to run for president. He has salvaged his reputation from a pretty low place. If Trump survives his first term, and if it turns out to be Andrew Cuomo versus Donald Trump, Andrew will be one very lucky man. Circumstances and luck will once again be on his side.

We need to do better.