Saturday, October 29, 2011

Reply to "Make Educated Council Choices" Letter

Here's a letter to the editor that appeared in the October 23, Times Leader, and below is our commentary on it:
Make Educated Council Choices
On Nov. 8, the residents of Luzerne County will be selecting 11 out of 28 candidates for the new county council. It is extremely important that the voters elect the most qualified, experienced and ethical candidates to these council seats.

The goal of this home-rule government is to reduce politics as we have seen it in the past. I sincerely hope that will be true! But let’s not be na�ve to think that politics is dead in Luzerne County, because it’s not. That is why it is up to the voters to make a conscious decision by voting for the candidates who will serve us best and not be driven by the party politics of the past.

The Democratic Party of this county already is handing out slate cards to vote for all 11 Democrats for county council. Does the Democratic Party, which seemingly has controlled Luzerne County for the past number of decades, actually believe that these 11 candidates are the best choices?

To date, the Republican Party has not endorsed any candidates nor has it suggested that 11 Republican candidates would be the best choices during this time of transition. I hope that remains the same until election time.

Also, there are some candidates who are registered Independents and campaigning as if they are independent individuals. But just because these individuals are not registered with a political party does not necessarily mean they are not political and have political ties. Let’s remember that independent candidates often hold views more extreme than the two major political parties, are too narrow in view or have hidden affiliations with a party but don’t formally identify with it in order to avoid subjugation of its policies.

Party politics is what has turned Luzerne County into a nationally recognized example of widespread political corruption, back-door deals and scandals. The party politics, which have overwhelmingly dominated this county in the past, need to be overcome.

This election should not be about party affiliation, gender, race or in which community the candidate lives. It needs to be about the individuals who understand this new home rule charter, have a solid education and most important have a track record of making ethical decisions.

The voters have an opportunity to change this county and have the ability to shut the door on party politics, which has driven our county into a hole.

Angelo Zingaretti
The point that really struck my interest was how Zingaretti insinuates that being "extreme" is mutally exclusive with being independent. He even hints that the reason some candidates are third party is that they're too Republican to be a Republican or too Democrat to be a Democrat--which seems to me to be somewhat self-refuting. If they were too "Republican" to be a Republican, then how exactly can they be described as "Republican"? He equivocates being a moderate with being an independent, which is nonsensical since "moderate" implies trying to moderate between two sides. Yet, if being moderate is a "side" in and of itself, then one could be moderate and an independent, especially if one views the parties as being extreme and unnatural. In the political spectrum, Angelo views any deviation from moderation as a downward slide. But here's the catch: yesterday's moderate will be different from today's moderate and from the one 20 years from now, and from the one 20 years ago. So if you really want to believe in something specific, then you should try to hold a philosophy that isn't determined by the ones around it. Thoughtless "moderation" is a sort of graduated nihilism because it bespeaks an ever-changing dynamic with no real philosophical foundation. If you're going to be a moderate, then you might as well be apathetic, since you're subject to those around you.

And this is the problem with KING'S COLLEGE, where Zingaretti attends; that all the political science students either come out being limp-wristed moderates or raving Democrats. It seems that moderation is good as long as it implies accepting the intellectual Democrat way of thinking. These are all sophisms that slide off easily.

So it depends how one defines indpendent, and what one wants to be independent from. A moderate is independent of consistent ideology, while an "extremist" is independent of the status quo point of moderation. Extremists rely heavily on ideology and moderates rely on the ever-changing collection of ideologies.

The worst impliciation of his point is that there is somehow a "right answer" that is irrespective of ideology. On the contrary it's all about ideology, especially in the long run. Therefore, one can be independent and on an "extreme" of one concieved spectrum or another.

The writer sees party politics the problem behind the corruption in Luzerne County, which is somewhat true. (The real problem is a sort of naive tribalism and regionalism whereby people choose candidates because they know them and only because they know them--and they hope to get a job or another benefit from them. Many times they get votes simply because of family ties. This is why Mayor Leighton is related to city attorney Bill Vinsko and via marriage to police chief Dessoye. The problem is that their a bunch of parasites, who collude to live off the rest of us.

Zingaretti then criticizes the Democrats for passing out slate cards. The reasoning behind the slate cards for the Dems is such: Each Democrat candidate is at a huge advantage over each Republican candidate, so if each Democrat voter really wants his favorite to make it, he must bullet vote for him/her. But, the irony is that this pervasive bullet voting may undermine the Democrats advantage if all the Republicans vote straight party. But Terry Casey and the Luzerne GOPers have decided not to issue a slate card in order to sacrafice county council candidates in favor of concentrating on the higher risk/reward prospects of Dick Hughes and Stafanie Salavantis. However, most Republicans will probably bullet vote in the hopes that their candidate will edge out a Democrat, and we may end up with all Democrats on the council.

Zingaretti correctly asserts that third party candidates often associate with major party people. Rick Williams and Packard both switched their registration of Independent in March of 2011. Williams had been a Democrat and Packard a Republican. Williams associates with Democrat candidate Elaine Maddon Curry, who is very statist and socially liberal, and his promotion of "progress" on his campaign literature reveals that he himself is probably a concerted big-governmenter. Also, some of Republican Joyce Dombroski-Gebhardt's supporters are also helping Libertarian Tim Mullen. Republican Bill James is reportedly helping Democrat Michelle Bednar.

But all in all, I thought the piece by Zingaretti was thought-provoking, and I fully endorse his aversion to blind party partisanship.

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