I heard a more satisfying if somewhat depressing explanation for the seemingly random eruptions of political idiosyncrasy from Samuel Abrams, who teaches politics at Sarah Lawrence and Stanford. Abrams, who has spent the last decade or so researching our political habits, begins with the evidence that most Americans are simply not engaged in local politics, except perhaps on pocketbook issues. In the absence of public attention, motivated, well-financed and sometimes extreme elites have captured the lawmaking process in many state capitals. Legislatures are vulnerable to (and often populated by) the most ardent believers in a cause, the ones who care enough to take the time, raise the money, turn out on Election Day and lobby relentlessly.
“People who participate in state and local government tend not to be representative of the masses at all,” Abrams told me. “They tend to be highly engaged political elites — 15 percent of the population who think they’re fighting this culture war. They’ll see an opening. They’ll see a judge, they’ll see a legislature that looks amenable to something, and they’ll try to push it through and build a groundswell around that.”This County has been run by a power clique for so long that residents have become accustomed to it as normal. It's not normal (or shouldn't be). It's not representative. It's the wrong way to live.
By Trojan Heron estimates, about 160 influential people run this County. They sit on committees; they interview candidates for office and support/endorse the ones that pass their muster; they get grants; they work inside the County and control who gets hired; they manage the non-profits; they write the letters that get published in our newspapers. In short, they run our lives while the rest of us are trying to just live our lives. If no one else in the County except these 160 people existed, you wouldn't even notice by only looking at the way our public governance and media conduct themselves.
The traditional power clique is losing its grip on the control levers here (thanks to all of you), and they are very upset about it. They are unraveling. The letters and emails they send out are often ad hominem attacks, not based on issues. Even their attempts at issues-based homilies, like Judge Darrah's opinion piece, are so turgid and bereft of relevant facts as to be meaningless (like the CAOs themselves). Elaborately worded ignorance is still just ignorance, and Judge Darrah can't seem to wrap his elevated mind around something very simple: the CAOs cannot remedy something that does not exist to begin with. These islands have not been shown to be contributing to environmental decline, so efforts to justify restrictions on the premise of protection are specious. The only environmental threats the CAOs address are the ones fabricated on paper by the tables and assertions developed by Shireene Hale and concurred by Dr. Adamus. A CAO scofflaw would be in violation of one of these tables/assertions only, not violating actual environmental protections.
The new CAOs are so confusing, anti-people, environmentally pointless, and rambling that it is nearly impossible to support them without also being a hypocrite regarding some aspect of their implementation ... because somewhere, somehow nearly everyone will be in violation of their unbridled discretion. The CAOs were designed to catch everyone. If you support them, you are undermining yourself, not just your neighbors.
The ballots are out. Already, some of you may have voted. We hope you re-read the posts on this blog and look at the links on this post before you hand in your ballot. You can help to stop the madness if you continue to participate, vote, and speak out.
Here are the latest fundraising tallies (and links to posts/videos of the candidates). It's quite clear who is independent and who is supported by the Machine. It is also gratifying to see that some candidates have noticeably changed their message during this campaign in response to citizen feedback. That just shows that we can have an effect if we all stay engaged.
(Note: Trust Islanders has raised $14,125 and has unilaterally endorsed Jarman, Hughes, and McClerren. However, there is no coordination with their campaigns.)