By Seth Grossman, Political Columnist
Many Americans believe that our country is going in the wrong direction, and that bad government is taking us there. Why don?t we just vote out the people who run it? We have a democracy.
We could have completely changed our state government this year when all 40 senators and 80 Assembly members of our New Jersey Legislature were up for election. This happens only once every 10 years.
But nobody got voted out of office. Nobody was challenged by anyone who promised to change anything.? Everyone complains that most politicians these days are stupid, greedy and/or crooked. So why don?t any smart and honest people run against them?? Look at what we expect of our candidates.
We no longer attend public political meetings or debates; we insist that the candidates we support show up at meetings of our own little groups. This disqualifies anyone who is not willing or able to neglect their job, business or family for months at a time to go out campaigning. We don?t support ?losers? who don?t have lots of ads on radio, TV, newspapers or billboards, and slick, expensive campaign mail pieces. But we don?t contribute money so the candidates we like can pay for these things ? unless we expect some job, contract or other special favor in return.? Few of us even display campaign signs or bumper stickers without expecting something.
So who runs for county or state political office? Except for some clueless eccentrics on ego trips, our candidates are usually people who are paid lots of money by the government (or industries subsidized by government) and who are supported by unions that have lots of money and power because the government forces people to join them. And our candidates don?t have or are willing to ignore family responsibilities.
Sen. Jim Whelan, the Democratic candidate for state Senate, met these qualifications. He was paid well for his part-time work as a union public school teacher and state senator, and he collects a state government pension, even though he is only 62 years old and has two government jobs. Whelan qualified for that pension in part because Republicans in Ventnor created a government job for him after Whelan unsuccessfully ran for mayor ofAtlantic Cityagainst Lorenzo Langford, the Democratic nominee in 2002.
At first, Whelan had the support of both the powerful New Jersey Education Association and the network of former Republican state Sen. Bill Gormley. Later, Whelan came under the protection of powerful Democratic state Senate majority leader and ironworkers union boss Steve Sweeney.
Whelan?s Republican opponent this year, Vince Polistina, was paid well as an engineer from government jobs traditionally given out by local politicians to selected insiders. Polistina got buckets of campaign money from Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who in turn got most of that money from out of state and through his Wall Street insider brother, Todd Christie. Of course, Polistina has young children and family responsibilities at home, which probably hindered his campaign.
It was the same story with the Assembly candidates. Democrats Alisa Cooper and Damon Tyner were never expected to win. They were run by Democrats to make sure Whelan?s ticket had the ?diversity? required of Democrats ? a black and a woman ? Jewish for extra credit.
Both got their campaign money from Sweeney?s organization, building trades unions, and the teachers? unions. Both Democrats get government pay, benefits and pensions ? Cooper, as a union public school teacher, and Tyner, anEggHarborTownshiplawyer, gets government work through his political ties ? like being solicitor for Somers Point government when Democrats were in control.
Republican Assembly candidate John Amodeo retired at age 61 with an Operating Engineers Union Local 825 pension. This gave him the free time needed for politics. He got the campaign money, manpower and political campaign training from Republican Gov. Christie and construction worker unions connected to Democrat Senate president and union organizer Steve Sweeney.
Amodeo?s running mate, Assemblyman-elect Chris Brown, is a Ventnor lawyer whose political ties got him government pay, benefits and pension credits inAtlantic City,EggHarborTownshipandGallowayTownship.
Next year?s elections will bring us more of the same unless people like you decide to sacrifice your time and money to be candidates or to help people like you who decide to run ? all without expecting anything in return except a government that secures liberty and equal treatment for all, something we once enjoyed and expected in America.
(Reprinted from December 2, 2011 Current-Gazette Newspapers of Atlantic and Cape May Counties, http://www.shorenewstoday.com/snt/news/index.php/politics/18748-only-those-on-the-public-dime-have-the-free-time-for-politics.html )
Somers Point attorney Seth Grossman appears on 1400AM talk radio 3-4 p.m. Monday and Wednesday and on 92.1FM 8-9 a.m. Saturday. For information see www.libertyandprosperity.org, email
or call (609) 927-7333 . Breakfast discussions are held 9:30-10:30 a.m. every Saturday at the Shore Diner on Fire and Tilton roads in Egg Harbor Township.