Alan Chartock: U.S. Politics reaps what it sows



This country had slavery up until the 1860s when the Civil War decided the issue.

That should have been that, but it wasn't. Perhaps because of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in combination with the later impeachment of Andrew Johnson, things in the South went bad and have stayed bad ever since.

We had an opportunity to make it right and we didn't. First, there was literal slavery and when that ended, there was economic slavery and the terror of the KKK and other racist groups.

A recent poll had a little more than half of Americans admitting to racial prejudice.

We have a black president of the United States based in part on the inept work of George W. Bush. The Republicans have been shameless in their attacks on Barack Obama. For his part, the president has been very careful about how he operates.

The Democrats and Republicans are both after a small sliver of white, middle-class voters. If the president appears to them to be an angry black man, he risks alienating that small target population.

On the other hand, while that small, middle-class sliver may aspire to the wealthy above them, they also know about Medicare and Social Security, both of which have been targets of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan with an emphasis on the latter.

Chris Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey, had wonderful, positive things to say about the president after Hurricane Sandy hit. He's made his reputation as a straight shooter who says what he thinks and now he needs the president to help New Jersey, but there is another potential reason he may be making nice to Obama.

If Mitt Romney becomes president, one has to assume that he'll be there for eight years.

If Romney loses, however, Christie, who was prominently mentioned as a potential presidential candidate. can start his campaign for 2016 on Nov. 7.

In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has used this occasion to put his imprimatur on the global warming threat, pointing out that we seem to be having "100-year storms" every year or two. While the scientists all agree on global warming, very little has been said about it during this campaign. Now we see some real evidence that our worst fears are being realized.

Both Cuomo and Christie may be making politically ambitious moves for not exactly the right reasons, they're saying the right stuff.

There is a question of how Sandy will affect voting. We do know that while Democrats hold a numerical advantage over Republicans, they vote in smaller proportions than Republicans who often, but not always, have more money and therefore vote to protect their assets. That's why we see so many efforts by Republicans to suppress the vote. This will be another.

Mitt Romney is a states' rights kind of guy. During the primaries, he was articulate about returning the powers of FEMA to the states. But now, after a national emergency that crosses state lines, Romney refuses to confirm his opinion that FEMA should be busted up. The question is asked and he simply will not answer.

We are on the precipice of handing over much of the function of government to private venders who operate on the profit motive. Romney has made clear his intention to do that time and again.

Finally, I respect state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli for taking every election very seriously. On the other hand, his zeal may be misplaced. He has done such a good job that we would be very stupid to even think about replacing him. You have really got to love a man who is always available and puts himself out for all of us.


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