02 April 2013
Bipartisan corruption in New York
If the charges stick, this is really sick. A Democratic state senator has been arrested, along with a Republican city councilman from New York City and several other politicians, for their alleged roles in a scheme to bribe Republican party officials into allowing the Democrat onto the primary ballot for the New York City mayoral nomination. Malcolm Smith has schemed with Republicans in the past, most recently as part of a power-sharing bid in the senate. You can see his line of thinking, since the GOP line in New York City was a shortcut to power for Michael Bloomberg, who in many ways, most notoriously his "nanny state" measures regulating food sales, has been the antithesis of the Republican stereotype. Republicanism in the metropolis lacks the kind of rabid ideological base that enforces orthodoxy elsewhere, and while the city should be glad to go without that kind of agitation a lack of ideological integrity leads to corruption in the biggest cities just as it does in smaller communities like my own, where the major parties play dirty to secure control of third-party lines in the absence of any truly dedicated constituencies for those parties on the local level. The solution need not be to import Tea Partiers to New York City to discourage stunts like the one alleged. The conspirators would have taken the steps alleged because they deemed them necessary to securing a favorable spot on the ballot. The remedy is to make it easier for all serious candidates -- serious in purpose if not probability -- to be treated equally during campaigns, and to eliminate the favoritism that relegates most candidates for any office to second-class status at best. Once upon a time, all it took to be recognized as a candidate for office was to stage some mass meetings so people could say they wanted you. The current system makes it easier for a few and harder for most of us. It'll be easy to damn both the individuals implicated in this plot and their parties if prosecutors prove the charges, but the system makes all of it possible -- the bipolarchy created the system -- and nothing short of systematic change, rather than more ideological purity all around, will make it impossible.