Although Tony Benn, the British politician who died earlier today, said a lot of things worth remembering, my personal favorite is his list of questions we should ask anyone in authority: “What power do you have?; Where did you get it?; In whose interests do you exercise it?; To whom are you accountable; and, How can we get rid of you?”
— D.D. Guttenplan in The Nation http://www.thenation.com/blog/178863/tony-benn-best-prime-minister-britain-never-had
If the quote above betrays me as a little down on this little civitas we’re operating here, it’s because where I live, here in Washington, DC, it’s time to vote, and it’s just not pretty.
Up for selection are the mayor, several council member seats and a couple of others that have no real value at all — “shadow” positions.* The mayor we have is expected to be indicted any day now, following on that of the fellow who now says, why yes, he did in fact contribute illegal funds to his campaign in 2010, and to lots of others too. The mayor, named “Gray” (though we District residents would rather have this resolved in black and white, thanks) denies wrongdoing, and therefore, all knowledge of the daily machinations of his campaign.
We’re in a tough position here, where the crimes committed are the white-collar greenback money type. You could argue that no one was materially hurt — no bridges were blocked (see Christie); no drugs ingested (see Barry); no citizens executed (see every elected official in Texas).
But our feelings and our sense of civic integrity have been hurt — again.
And despite the high dysfunctionality, a whole dais of contenders want the job for themselves.
Here’s another issue. Because almost all the voters here are registered as Democrats, the primary is where all the action is, and this year — who decided this? — it falls on April 1. Between April and November, the Democratic victor would normally stand around waiting for the routine general election to become official-hyphen-elect, then primp for a January inauguration. This year, though, expect some busier times for the political writers. There may be more accusations and indictments, candidates who get the silver or bronze (or don’t medal at all) in April may find spiffy new personalities to run as Independents in November, joined by a few fresh new/recycled faces for the general.
* If you live in DC, and are an established political philosopher who can explain to me a theoretical and rational reason for being bothered with this, bring it on.