23 August 2010

Paladino: Gravedigger of the Bipolarchy?

I missed a "brush with greatness" by mere moments Friday morning, since Carl Paladino was leaving my office just as I was heading in. He had stopped in to chat with our editors, promote his campaign for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, and dis his principal rivals: Republican competitor Rick Lazio and Democratic front-runner Andrew "Status" Cuomo. While Paladino has an independent line of his own to run on, he wants to knock Lazio out of the race (despite Lazio's own presumably guaranteed spot on the Conservative line) because Lazio "showed no absolutely no depth on any of the issues" and "illustrated no intestinal fortitude." Lazio does not impress Paladino as being fit for the "magnanimous job" of "confront[ing] this ruling class" embodied by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, whom Paladino wants to transport in a cage from village to village." As for Cuomo, while the semibillionaire Paladino is certainly a much wealthier man, he "illustrates" the arriviste's envy of the establishment, sneering that the attorney general is not only an "insider" and solely responsible for the housing bubble, but also "daddy's boy."

Given how Paladino covets the Republican line, this comment looks a little strange:

We are watching right now the beginning of the demise of the party system in the state of New York. The disaffected voters, the people in the Tea Parties and the Patriot parties. You’ve never seen that in past elections. These people are not aliens climbing out of some spaceship or living in the woods. These are real people. These are disaffected Democrats. They are disaffected Independents. They are disaffected Republicans and Conservatives. These are real people and especially the prime voters and they’ve had enough. They don’t want their rulers anymore.The idea here is we are seeing the budding of a revolution and that revolution doesn’t want that government anymore.

Perhaps Paladino believes you can only undo the party system by taking it over. But he seems to be doing little to speed the system's demise so long as he has promised not to campaign actively for his own Taxpayers line should Lazio win the Republican nomination. Defeating Cuomo apparently takes priority over dismantling the party system of the ruling class, even though Paladino is convinced of Lazio's inability to reform the system. Moments earlier, Paladino had described politics in general as "a minefield of disloyal, distrustful people all interested in themselves.

"It doesn't matter what the party label is," Paladino said, "it's a ruling class. We have to take out the ruling class." So perhaps it doesn't matter what party label Paladino wears, so long as the "disaffected" give him the power to "take out" his oppressors. But it seems to matter to him. He's invented his own party, but that isn't good enough for him, unless his enmity for Lazio proves so great that he forgets his promise in defeat. But if Paladino keeps his word, which he claims is a businessman's supreme virtue, the party system will have buried him.

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