Thursday, January 28, 2010

Westchester Guardian/Rob Astorino/Richard Blassberg.

Message For Rob Astorino: Wake Up And Smell The Coffee!

Implications Of Massachusetts Upset For Westchester.

Last Tuesday night Scott Brown, winner of the special race for United States Senator from the State of Massachusetts declared, at his celebration in Boston, “Tonight the independent majority delivered a great victory for the people.” Brown, a Republican State Senator for some five years, defeated Democrat Martha Coakley, Massachusetts Attorney General, for the seat held by the late Edward M. Kennedy for some 47 years, a remark-able upset, indeed.

There is no question that Mr. Brown’s victory will have an immediate negative impact upon the Obama Administration’s effort to pass major healthcare reform legislation. However, in a much broader sense, the election of a Republican to Ted Kennedy’s seat in perhaps the bluest, most liberal bastion in all of America, has far broader implications than the mere success or failure of Mr. Obama’s healthcare initiative.

The single most important implication lay in the very words Brown uttered in declaring victory. He did not exalt his own Republican Party. He acknowledged, and gave heartfelt thanks, to “the independent majority,” and not the Republican Party that nominated him and supported his brilliant campaign. He recognized, as our own newly-minted Republican County Executive should truly recognize, that without those non-aligned and independent voters, he would not have succeeded.

Despite the fact that Democrats outnumber Republicans in the Bay State three to one, clearly, it was not a matter of Party allegiance, Democrats vs. Republicans, that would determine the outcome. Instead, it was really a cobbling together of those independent voters who understood that it was an election about issues, healthcare, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the sluggish economy.

Brown rightly sensed that voters did not feel especially understood or responded to by either the Democratic or Republican Parties, and that their mood was one of discontentment and anger with the status quo. Driving throughout the state to his numerous campaign rallies and speeches in a pickup truck, projected the image of a candidate who was one of them; one who would listen to them and bring about change they could live with and afford.

In plain language, the people of this country have grown tired of the “same ol’, same ol’”, a two-party system where the players, with few exceptions, are interchangeable, and neither side seems to care enough to bring about meaningful and lasting changes. They hunger for real solutions to the basic problems faced daily by working families in our sluggish economy as mortgage foreclosure continues to erode our neighborhoods and displace unemployed and underemployed constituent taxpayers.

Not since Watergate has the public perception of politicians and the two major parties been so poor. Never before have families been so heavily taxed while, at the same time, working longer hours to bring home less.

In Washington President Obama, who rode to victory just one year ago, promising “fundamental changes in the way government would be conducting business,” now finds himself being accused of “illusory tactics”, yet engaging in concessions and giveaways that continue to drain and depress our economy.

Here at home in Westchester, we do not particularly enjoy having the distinction of paying the highest property taxes in the nation, coupled with the falling market value of our homes. That one-two punch has tended to make us more uncomfortable with, and intolerant of, arrogant, self-serving politicians.

Those who participate in the electoral process have become increasingly unwilling to identify with either the Democrats or Republicans, preferring, instead, to be registered with the Independence Party, or as an independent, non-aligned voter. In fact, in many areas of the country, non-aligned and Independence Party registrations combined comprise more than one-third of voters in any given election; a fact that should now dramatically alter the rules of engagement in most future races.

No longer should the Independence Party of Westchester be content to cross-endorse either the Republican or Democratic Party choice, in any given contest, thus ensuring that particular candidate’s probable election. Rather, the time has come when the Independence Party should be actively issuing platforms and positions with respect to countywide, statewide and national issues.

At the same time, the Independence Party needs to actively interview, and recruit, compatible worthy candidates for all positions available, simultaneously aggressively registering and educating new Party members, particularly young adults.

It is no longer a productive strategy to merely crossendorse candidates who have been pre-selected by either the Democratic or Republican machine. That fact has been forcefully driven home by the actions of the Astorino Administration over the past 10 weeks since election.

Despite initial acknowledgement of the crucial role played by the Independence Party and nonaligned voters in Rob Astorino’s victory over Andy Spano, a victory predicted and encouraged by information published by The Guardian alone against all other local news media in Westchester, the new Administration has virtually avoided any and every opportunity to include those without whose active assistance their success would not have occurred.

It has rapidly become apparent that, with the exception of the switch at the very top, and those closest to him, the Astorino Administration is quite happy to leave much of the corrupt Spano organization in place.

Change? What change? We don’t see much change at all.

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